I don't know Jennifer Weiner, but she's one of my neighbors. I used to see her writing at the coffee shop across the street from my house. I haven't read any of her novels, for no reason other than that I almost never read contemporary fiction except for mysteries. I did watch the movie In Her Shoes, which was from her book of the same name. But now that I've read Hungry Heart, I feel like I know her intimately.
This is a collection of her essays - about everything. And EVERYTHING about everything. If you know anything about her, you know that she's a feminist, opinionated, and that she's struggled with her weight and body image all her life. When I used to see her at the currently defunct coffee shop, I didn't think she was noticeably large. Maybe that was after her gastric bypass surgery. Yes, in detail.
It was strange to recognize so many places she writes about. We took our pets to the same animal hospital. I know the park on Front Street where her dog was attacked by another dog and I know the dog park her dog hated. I know which hotel her family stayed in when she got married the second time and the bookstore she took her little girl to to buy a birthday present for a friend. It was a little unreal and it makes me feel a little creepy that I know so much about her.
I admire people who can be so self-revealing. I'm usually honest, but I'm reserved, and I reserve my deepest secrets because I've been burned by people I trusted with them. She puts it all out there: her two marriages, her ex-boyfriends, the father who abandoned his family and ended up dead of a heroin overdose, her miscarriage (again, in detail), childbirth, her beloved dogs - it's all there.
Maybe oddly, I found it refreshing. The only way we know about people, about our own selves, is to know what other people experience, how they live, how they feel. But it's a weird feeling to know so much about someone you don't know but who you see every now and then. I walk past her house several times a week. The next time I see her, will she know that I know her now?