Hun­gry Heart

Jen­nifer Weiner
  • Review
By – May 5, 2017

Are you leery of books with glossy cov­ers fea­tur­ing high-heeled shoes or bub­bling cham­pagne? Hun­gry Heart: Adven­tures in Life, Love, and Writ­ing might just force you to ask your­self why. Jen­nifer Wein­er, author of a num­ber of best­sellers, includ­ing In Her Shoes, Then Came You, and Best Friends For­ev­er, is quite con­vinc­ing in her argu­ment that books labeled chick lit” or women’s fic­tion” are not just enter­tain­ing, but also have the poten­tial to be ground­break­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this goes against con­ven­tion­al wis­dom in the book world — there are plen­ty of pro­fes­sion­als and read­ers who are quick to malign books that have female pro­tag­o­nists liv­ing reg­u­lar lives in mod­ern times. This was even more of a wide­spread and unex­am­ined ten­den­cy when Weiner’s debut nov­el, Good in Bed, was pub­lished in 2002.

Hun­gry Heart is not just the sto­ry of Jen­nifer Wein­er, though it is that as well. Hers is a sto­ry rec­og­niz­able to any­one who grew up Jew­ish in Amer­i­ca after the Holo­caust, who didn’t face the same tri­als as her par­ents or grand­par­ents, but whose vague sense of dis­place­ment spurred a life­time of striv­ing. It’s also rec­og­niz­able to any­one who has felt inse­cure and alone, who has tried to fit in but couldn’t, who believed she could prove her­self through achieve­ment. And it’s the sto­ry of a fat girl turned fat woman who has cre­at­ed a full life, and found love and suc­cess and mul­ti­ple hap­pi­ly-ever-afters. Wein­er describes the moment when her first agent told her that the lone­ly, pathet­ic” pro­tag­o­nist in Good in Bed need­ed to lose weight. Wein­er pushed back. She writes, I knew so many women who were not skin­ny and had won­der­ful, hap­py, ful­fill­ing lives, with great jobs and friends and fam­i­ly and part­ners. Why couldn’t I tell a sto­ry about one of those girls?”

She has. And that’s what makes this book, and oth­er books writ­ten by Jen­nifer Wein­er and writ­ers like her, ground­break­ing. Just like her fic­tion­al char­ac­ters, Wein­er isn’t a woman who has wait­ed around to be saved. She is who she is, imper­fect and wor­thy of love and hap­pi­ness. And she has shown through exam­ple that yesterday’s out­sider can be today’s heroine.

Relat­ed Reads:

Anna Katz is a free­lance writer, ghost­writer, and edi­tor. She is the author of Swim­ming Holes of Wash­ing­tonEasy Week­end Get­aways from Seat­tle, and the forth­com­ing The Art of Ramona Quim­by

Discussion Questions