I've read one or two novels about women who might variously be described, depending on who is doing the describing, as fat, overweight, obese, big-boned, chubby. None of these names are any better for people than was this novel as it happens, but I will grant that 'shrill' is a great title for it. With its tone, it ought to have been written in block caps. For reasons which escape me, the novel had some good buzz about it, which is how it came to my attention, but I immediately started to think maybe it was over-hyped when I realized it was first person voice. If you're going to be shrill, then you don't want to write in first person. In fact, very nearly every time you don't want to write in first person, because it doesn't do anything for your novel other than to make it an annoying mantra of "Hey, lookit MEEEE!"
I gave up on this particular one on page nineteen when I read, "I watched my friends become slender and beautiful" which told me in very plain terms that this writer is a part of the problem. In the preceding pages I'd already noted that body-shaming (and its equally despicable counter-part, body-idolizing) was part of this author's technique. She rambled on for several pages about Disney characters and others, when everyone already knows, or ought to know, that Disney is not known for political correctness or for realistic representations of anything, in either its animated oeuvre or its live action efforts. Not that these days, there's any difference between the two with Disney incestuously remaking every animated feature as a live action rinse and repeat. Barf.
Just in passing, I think she author here completely misinterpreted the depiction of King Triton in The Little Mermaid whose muscular frame was meant to imply power, not some ovulating go-to hunky guy - and even if she were correct in her errant assessment, why would it be a problem when it comes to merpeople? To take this character and talk about his disgusting fishiness, like he was trying to appear to humans when he clearly despised humans is completely out of left field and is just as bad of a tirade of body-shaming as anything the author complains about. It turns out she's part of the problem! Not that Triton is real, but it matters because it’s not the reality of the character, but the militant attitude of the author that's in question here. I notice she had not a word to say about how wrong it was that Ariel was not only willing to undergo the equivalent of plastic surgery in order to snag a human, but also to be muted? You see nothing wrong with that Ms West?
But I digress! Now: 'slender and beautiful'? The highest proportion of overweight and obese people in the world live in the USA. We have well over ten percent of the world's total. In a nation where some three-quarters of men and well over half of women are overweight and a third of children are joining them, the character in this novel has only friends who are all slender and beautiful? Not one of them was 'well-rounded' or even 'pleasantly plump'? Not one of them was 'plain' or 'homely'? They were all slender and beautiful?
I call horseshit on that one for two reasons. Firstly, given the statistics, it has all the hallmarks of an outright lie, and second, why is someone who is purposefully writing a book about a weight problem (from one perspective or another) equating slender with beautiful as though no one who isn't slender can possibly be attractive? That just seemed completely wrong-headed to me. Once again the author is a part of the problem, and I could not stand to read any more of this, especially since I was already having problems with it. I can't commend this as a worthy read.