Eat Only When You’re Hungry was my first-ever Book of the Month Club pick. I chose it because:
1.It has a great cover (I’m a sucker for good covers)
2. Roxane Gay gave it five stars on goodreads (enough said)
A father searches for his addict son while grappling with his own choices as a parent (and as a user of sorts)
In Lindsay Hunter’s achingly funny, fiercely honest second novel, Eat Only When You’re Hungry, we meet Greg—an overweight fifty-eight-year-old and the father of Greg Junior, GJ, who has been missing for three weeks. GJ’s been an addict his whole adult life, disappearing for days at a time, but for some reason this absence feels different, and Greg has convinced himself that he’s the only one who can find his son. So he rents an RV and drives from his home in West Virginia to the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, the last place GJ was seen. As we travel down the streets of the bizarroland that is Florida, the urgency to find GJ slowly recedes into the background, and the truths about Greg’s mistakes—as a father, a husband, a man—are uncovered.
In Eat Only When You’re Hungry, Hunter elicits complex sympathy for her characters, asking the reader to take a closer look at the way we think about addiction—why we demonize the junkie but turn a blind eye to drinking a little too much or eating too much—and the fallout of failing ourselves
Eat Only When You’re Hungry puts a lot of food onto a small plate (symbolically). The short novel tackles issues of drug and food addiction, family, divorce, and depression. It’s bright cover and loveable characters hide it’s deceptive underlying sadness. One of the most depressing parts occurs when drug addicted GJ tells his father Greg that he doesn’t think he really wants anything in life. He asks his father if he ever feels the same way. Greg feels that he always wants more physical comforts like sex and food, missing the big picture entirely. Greg and GJ are both constantly on the search for quick pleasures, though GJ turns to heroin while Greg turns to McDonalds.
Greg struggles to see where he and GJ estranged wife went wrong. Ironically, he fails to realize the ways in which his own addictions and aimlessness mirror his son’s.
I think that Greg and GJ are characters that many of us can relate to today, sadly. They are flawed and confused human beings who fail to find a passion for their life.
I absolutely loved this book right up until the last couple pages. The ending felt rushed and there was a complete lack of closure. I understand that may have been the point, to end the story in a way that denotes the depressing downhill battle of addiction, but it merely left me confused. I wish that the novel had been longer and more developed. However, I was truly impressed and engrossed in the all-too-familiar story and the realistic characters. Eat Only When You’re Hungry will make readers think twice about the way they live their lives and treat their friends and family.
What books did you choose from BOTM this month? Let me know what you thought about them.