3 out of 4 stars
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We live in a culture that tends to shame those who struggle with weight. Magazine covers prominently display women who are 'the perfect size' and others loudly declare how we can all lose our unwanted pounds by trying various exercises and eating plans. Often, these messages leave us feeling self-hatred as it seems no matter what we do isn't making us become the person who we think we should be. Trying to live up to society's expectations can often lead to a vicious cycle where food is used as a coping mechanism instead of for nutrition. While many of us would agree that living a healthy life is the ultimate goal, we often don't realize the emotional wounds that people are suffering underneath all the extra weight. In her memoir, You Have Such A Pretty Face, author Kelley Gunter has written with transparency regarding what she dealt with as a morbidly obese woman, how she was treated, and when it all changed.
The author takes her readers back fifteen years ago when she decided to undergo surgery to lose the weight that she had grown tired of carrying around. After trying many different types of diets and workout programs, she found that she could not transform herself into the person she longed to be. Climbing stairs or walking short distances often left her in immense pain, and she would have to rest to catch her breath and stop the stabbing agony in her back.
The decision to go the medical route was not an easy one as obstacles seemed to be in her way. For example, her insurance would not pay for it, so she had to secure funds through another source to do so. Also, some family members and close acquaintances were not all on board with it which made her question this as she took their concerned advice to heart. There was life-threatening danger involved with this choice, so she kept backing away from it. Even with all of this uncertainty, a defining moment for her came when she realized she was not only limiting the enjoyment of her life but that of her son Alec. After not being able to escort him to do something fun at an event, and she had to stay in her seat to watch from the sidelines, she decided to pursue a physician.
I liked this book for many reasons. First, I learned a lot about what a person endures after this type of surgery. I didn't realize that the body often goes through quite a long phase of rejecting the food eaten, and this isn't an easy journey to a goal weight. It takes patience, controlling what one consumes as well as finding some sort of routine for exercise. These facts destroy the myth that this is a simple solution to the problem.
Also, this author has a gift in how she expresses her deep faith in God who was with her every step of the way throughout this process and continues to be. An unexpected angelic encounter occurs along with miracles, and that just put it over the top for me. She uses quotes from various authors and Bible passages along with wisdom from her most prominent supporters, her mom and her grandma that she refers to as Nonnie. This gives this topic such a needed boost in positivity since there is such darkness that surrounds those who feel lost, alone and trapped in their bodies. I also enjoyed the pictures she placed about halfway through so readers can see the changes she depicted in the writing.
I would recommend this for those who are struggling with lifelong weight issues, but it also was a fantastic reading experience for me. While I do not have the same issues that the author described, we all are subjected to comparison and feeling less than who we should be, and her advice in this book was wonderful. Her sense of humor and compassion mixed in makes this easy to read and relatable. While out in public during the course of reviewing this, I found myself more aware of those around me. In the past, I might not have given it much thought, but I made a point to smile as I walked by people because this book educates on how we all can shine a little light into the lives of others. We have no idea what that small extension of ourselves can do.
While there is a broad audience potential for this book, for those who do not like non-fiction or memoirs, this one would not be for you. However, I would say you are missing out on a gem.
I did find multiple errors in some of the punctuation. Most of these revolved around compound sentences missing commas. Because I did notice a few mistakes, I would recommend another round of editing which is the only reason I am giving this a 3 out of 4 stars. Otherwise, I would have given it a perfect score.
In closing, this book reminded me of this powerful statement: You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy (Psalm 30:11-12 AMP).
You Have Such a Pretty Face
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