Chalk it up to Love(Aspen Ridge #1) by Jill Haymaker
This book would have gotten a warm, fuzzy 4 stars from me except for a few issues that I had that were compounded as the story progressed. Jill Haymaker is a good writer and the story was sweet and heartwarming. The thing that got me was the fatphobia and fat shaming that littered the female main character's, internal monologue through the entire book. It was annoying at first but by the end it just pissed me off. And let me just say, I am coming at this from a single mom, overweight perspective that I live, so at first I felt like, wow, maybe I could connect with this character.
Erin is divorced and says in the beginning she had gained some weight. This was phrased like 15lbs then 20lbs. Finally Erins says she was at least 30lbs heavier and at five two 30 excess pounds was a lot. Fine okay, but as the book progresses this seems to become an almost obsessive focus when we are reading from Erin's perspective. Whenever anything feels off balance at all she goes to her weight making it seem like it is the root of all her problems. Additionally, she is constantly looking at thin women saying how beautiful they are because they are thin and thus more attractive. This is never challenged either except for a few comments from Boyd that went something akin to "like he knew what she was thinking he said "your beautiful." Oh, and if I had to read the word diet one more time...Ugh.
This bothered me enough to knock an entire star off my rating because if the book was about her weight really being a problem and the author had leaned into her obsessiveness about it, that would have been one thing, instead it was the harsh, self deprecating inner monologue that never got challenged and the resolution... Hold on **SPOILER ** She goes from one second hating herself to the next accepting and loving who she is. There is no switch thrown that could change someone's inner monologue that easily or quickly. And the change only came after someone else loved her. That's not how it works, nor is it healthy. I think this could be triggering or even dangerous to a certain subset of readers and frankly became such a point of contention for me that I literally found myself grumbling out loud every time I read a fat passage. Fatphobic and obsessive, for thirty pounds, it's madness and so much a part of the unhealthy mental aspect of body image that is contributing to the massive numbers of eating disorders.
I feel torn because the story as a whole is warm and sweet and I really was rooting for Boyd to find happiness again. But, this one aspect of the story really ticked me off, especially at the end, when I should have been filled with joy but instead asked really?
I do like Haymaker's writing and her story telling (except for that one aspect) so I will be trying more from her list of reads.