“The Appetites of Girls” – Pamela Moses
On first glance, “The Appetites of Girls” appears to be a lightweight read about four young women moving from their family home to college. Four young women who bond as freshman roommates, with the shine, escapades and opportunities of higher education awaiting them.
That’s the veneer.
Underneath the surface, this book is about escaping, surviving and challenging the past.
The book begins with a glimpse into each girl’s childhood – each raw, poignant and challenging in its own right. We see how their childhoods and maternal influences come to impact their self-image and identity. We see how food and body issues define them.
And, most notably, we see the significant impact their mothers have on their lives.
One of the mothers is overbearing, controlling. The second is restless, neglectful. The third bows to the cultural imperative of the eldest son being supreme, giving her daughter the message that women should be subservient. The fourth mother is a socialite, materialistic, flighty.
By the time the young women leave for college, the maternal and childhood influences are set. For even with new found freedom, each young woman is haunted by these influences- through every thought, decision and action they make.
Can we ever escape our pasts? That’s the question.
Soon you’ll find yourself asking: which young woman was I? Which mother did I have?
For readers who experienced painful childhoods, struggles with their mothers, strained relations with their daughters, or all of the above, this book will resonate.
Early experiences and influences have a huge impact on our psyche. They haunt, impact, move us forward with determination – or, hold us back.
Can these young women, with their diverse stories, struggles and backgrounds rise above those experiences?
Getting past the past is often the biggest challenge.