Saturday, December 8, 2012

Books: Diary of a Mad Fat Girl

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl
Stephanie McAfee

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is the story of Graciela "Ace" Jones. Ace is in fact a fat girl (although the descriptions of her in the book sound more like chubby) who has a lot to be mad about - she recently broke up with her fiance, her friend dumped her right before a planned vacation, another friend is being abused by her husband, and she hates the principal at her school (she's an art teacher).

The main plot of the book is dealing with the abusive husband situation, although there are plenty of subplots. I was surpsied to learn that the book is not part of a series, since that's certainly how it reads (per the InterWebs, it's apparently a super-popular self-published e-book that was later made into a dead-tree version). There's nothing that happens in the last 20 pages that you don't predict in the first 10, but it's a good ride. Ace and her friends are funny, and the misadventures are wacky without being over-the-top. Then, of course, the good and bad guys get what they deserve and everyone lives happily ever after.

Does it pass the Bechdel test: Yes. Ace and her friends spend A LOT of time talking about men, but they do also discuss other things - fat, work, money, and Ace's chiweenie, Buster Loo.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Books: Defending Jacob

I'm trying something new here ... I hope it sticks, so bear with me.

Defending Jacob
William Landay
Hardcover, 421 pages

I picked up this book on the recommendation of my mother. She described it as a good story with a twist, similar to Gone Girl.

I found it to be more of a legal thriller, as it's told from the point of view of Jacob's father - a lawyer. No spoilers here: Jacob is accused of a crime, and he needs defense. In the beginning of the story the narrator believes nothing but his son's innocence, though some evidence that causes doubt appears throughout the course of the book. Lots of the plot focuses on nature vs nurture -- genetics, daycare, parenting style, what parents don't know about their teens. As a new mom, I admit it freaked me out a bit to think about still more things that can go wrong with my child. Some of the plot points I found a bit unbelieveable.

As for the twist: I won't spoil it. I did think I had it figured out about halfway through the book (and it was kind of obvious that there would be some sort of twist), but I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. (On the right track, but wrong.)

Does this book pass the Bechdel test: Yes. The narrator's wife and a court-appointed psychologist have a conversation that's not about men. Lots of it is about the son, but that's to be expected. Not a lot of named female characters in the book, but it's a pretty small cast and a male narrator.