Review ♦ Moose: A Memoir Of Fat Camp


About The Book

Stephanie Klein was an eighth grader with a weight problem. It was a problem at school, where the boys called her “Moose,” and it was a problem at home, where her father reminded her, “No one likes fat girls.” After many frustrating sessions with a nutritionist known as the fat doctor of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, Klein’s parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp. Determined to return to school thin and popular, without her “lard arms” and “puckered ham,” Stephanie embarked on a memorable journey that would shape more than just her body. It would shape her life.

Book Title: Moose: A Memoir Of Fat Camp Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir
Author: Stephanie Klein Type: Trade Paperback 320 Pages
Publisher: Harper Collins Publication Date: June 2009

My Thoughts  
Reading memoirs are sometimes hard for me, not because I don’t enjoy them, mainly because I want to know for sure that what I’m reading is really true. In my mind certain writers start out with the basic truth but they inflate, or exaggerate things to a point where I personally think it should be classified as fiction. Now onto Moose: A Memoir Of Fat Camp, it opens with an author’s note, which is always a plus for me, it lets you get a feel for the person before jumping into the middle of their life. But in this case it helped clear up some of my fact versus fiction worries. Stephanie Klein clearly states in this note that she has combined five years worth of fat camp experiences into one for this book, she explains why and how, and ends off by saying that even though the timeline has been altered, all the events described really did happen to her. This is awesome! Just those two small pages at the beginning made my reading experience all the more enjoyable – honesty, straight up front in a memoir is a great thing. (This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book, but it’s an important element to me, so maybe it’s important to other readers out there too.)

Moose is the story of Stephanie Klein’s battle against her weight and her body issues throughout her adolescence, and the reader is first introduced to her during a prenatal check-up during her pregnancy. This was a good time to meet her, as she has just been told by her doctor that she needs to gain fifty pounds. This must have been such a blow to her mentally, I mean after years of watching to make sure the numbers on the scale stay low, she’s now being told she needs to weigh more, a lot more. Fifty pounds is quite a lot even to a perfectly healthy body. This news takes her back to her childhood, when her mother tells her that she’s made an appointment for her to see a fat doctor, which will eventually lead to her first summer at a fat camp.

Retold from memory and diary excerpts the reader follows Stephanie as she becomes a new member of the summer fat camp society. And it is indeed it’s own society, complete with ranks, cliques and popularity contests. Even though Stephanie is overweight, and ridiculed at her regular school, once at the summer camp she sees that she will be higher on the social ladder. Why? Well because she may be fat, but the majority of the kids there are larger than her. This was really interesting and made me think a lot about how people are judged and where they fit in with their peers – it’s not so much the person, but the people who surround them that decide where a person falls in the social order.

Moose is not only about an overweight girl spending a summer at fat camp, it’s also a book about growing up, being a kid, and struggling with all the other crap that comes with adolescence. Boys, sex, discovering your own body, troubles with parents and friends - all these things come into play along the way, in an open and un-self-conscious way. The way that Stephanie Klein writes is blunt and to the point, but it’s also funny, sad and confusing, just the way life really is.

This memoir was one that I enjoyed reading quite a bit, I really like Klein’s style. This story deals with a lot of serious issues, but it never gets too deep or overly analytical. Her story is told in such a way that the reader can either take it or leave it. She tells it like it is. I had quite a discussion over this memoir with a friend of mine. I liked it, she didn’t. We agreed that it was well-written and engaging, but ended up debating the message behind it and the lack of a miraculous psychological recovery. It’s true that the author doesn’t find a magic cure to fix her negative body image issues, she still has problems seeing herself as healthy and fit, and still worries about her weight. But to me personally, I didn’t have a problem with this, I think that a weight problem would be extremely hard to get over and the fact that Stephanie Klein admits these things makes her story all the more fascinating to me.

It’s a sad fact, but the society we live in is so obsessed with looks, and that makes a weight struggle all the more difficult. Whether a girl/woman is underweight or overweight or average, there will always be someone, or something telling her that she isn’t ‘right’ – so not only must you change your own perceived body image, you also have to ignore what’s all around you everyday.

About The Author
tephanie Klein is an acclaimed writer and photographer with a cult-like following. Her work has been published in the UK, Europe, India, Australia, Japan, China, and elsewhere. Her blog, Greek Tragedy, is visited by more than 400,000 readers a month. Klein's photography is on permanent exhibit in New York's Hotel Gansevoort. Her first memoir, Straight Up and Dirty, is currently in development as a half-hour comedy series. While she enjoys living in Austin, Texas with her husband and twin son and daughter, she'll always be a New Yorker.

Other Reviews
Have you reviewed this book too?
Let me know and I’ll add your link.

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Care said...

Wow - I still can't get my head around the 'must add 50#' - that seems like a lot. And it's also cool that she has so many hits to her blog. AND, I like your explaining your approach and appreciation for honest memoirs.

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs and this one sounds like a real winner! I just find it so sad that kids have to try to be like everyone else to fit in. I think it's time we started celebrating what makes each person unique.

Lady Lazarus said...

I don't usually like memoirs because they all seem to be the same after a while - bad childhood because of parents - but this one sound really interesting. I've never read a memoir about weight issues before and, as I was a little bigger (to say the least) when I was in school, this sounds like something I'd really enjoy. :-D

Dar said...

Wow, this sounds really good Joanne. Well done review. Weight is such a hard issue to deal with as it affects how you feel about yourself and your confidence. It's very sad that young women grow up thinking you have to look a certain way to be accepted and really things don't change when you get older. Magazines and tv show perfect, slim women and it makes you feel all the worse about yourself. It's nice if you can just accept yourself but that's not always the easiest thing to do. I'm definitely adding this to my 'to buy' list.

Belle said...

I enjoy memoirs, although I don't often think about how much of a memoir is the absolute truth. I think I tend to read them the way I read novels! I am a little stunned at being asked to gain 50 pounds to prepare for a pregnancy, though - the author must have been quite thin at the time!

Icedream said...

I brought this home from the library but it was one of those that got buried in my tbr pile and eventually returned without being read. I will have to give it another chance because your review made it sound like it would be well worth the read.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

This sounds awesome, but I'm already a big fan of well-written and honest memoirs.

I just started watching Weeds on DVD, and one of the kids in it is constantly being harassed by her mother because she's slightly overweight. The show hasn't done much with that other than to make the mother look like a villain, but reading about this memoir reminded me of that.

Zibilee said...

I read another review of this book, it was positive as well. I think this book touches on a lot of issues that I had as a young woman, and I think it would be a really revealing and introspective read for me. As I see it now, I think much is made of appearance, and especially the weight, of young girls. I would like to say that I didn't get caught up in that trap, but that would be false. I am really interested in reading this book, and seeing it from another woman's perspective. Great review!

Beth F said...

Except for health issues, I wish we could live in a society that let people just be comfortable with their own bodies, no matter the size.

Anonymous said...

If you enjoyed this I would certainly suggest that you pick up Fat Girl by Judith Moore. A quick and "sadly entertaining" read. I've read it multiple times and always am gleaning something new from it.