Book Review: The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Summary:  Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society mother and, to provoke her, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous brother by allowing him to take the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her own way in the world. 

I very much enjoyed this book and while there's nothing entirely new here it was engaging and quite captivated me. Mother's loom large whether they are imposing their will forcefully or emotionally absent and food becomes a hiding place, a battle cry, an object of denial or fear. Still it's clear that each of the women were searching for happiness, peace and joy. I won't spoil but I'm glad they found it. I suppose many women will see themselves in the characters and I admit that I most identified with Francesca. Setsu was the one who took longest for me to engage with but once I did, I understood her and hoped for her happiness. Opal broke my heart with her story so watching her come full circle was wonderful. From the start I rooted for Ruth to find her voice and exercise her own agency and it while it was difficult to watch her fits and starts along the way, it was satisfying altogether when she did. Above all, I enjoyed watching each woman finally value herself and her right to her opinions, decisions and happiness.

My favorite passage from the book is by Fran: "Some lessons take longer to learn than others. If I had obeyed my own stubbornness, I could have gone a lifetime without ever learning mine. But as I gazed into Jonathan's eyes on the morning we were married, I understood with a certainty that steadied even my bridal jitters that I had been waging futile battles, seeking strength in empty places"

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a strong story about women. I'll also be looking forward to reading more from Pamela Moses in the future. I won this book in a giveaway (not on Goodreads) from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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