So my road trip with mom & sister continues….

We’ve had lots of family drama and some unexpected grace. We had a lovely time in Kansas City and enjoyed time with my uncle and his wife. We caught the last KC Royals home game (yes, I know, they didn’t do well this year, but it’s a transition season!). ;o)

We’re currently taking a small break at a convent/convention center where a beloved friend of my mother’s is buried. Sister Rita was a nun who taught at my mother’s Ursuline boarding school and the two became great friends later in life. The school was in Paola, KS but when it closed down a couple decades ago, the nuns moved to a new home here in St. Joseph, Kentucky.

The story goes that the nuns at my mother’s Catholic primary school worked very hard to get her a place and a scholarship to the boarding school, which was about 30 miles away from her hometown. They wanted to protect her from her mother.

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My mother had a difficult childhood. She was the oldest of three, and the only one born before my grandfather left for WWII. Her mother was abusive to her, so abusive that the family was concerned for my mother’s safety—a toddler, mind you—and decided to have her live with her grandmother. 

To this day, my mother considers her grandmother more of her mother than her actual mother.

There’s a lot more drama to this story (surprise!), but I’ll leave it there.

As you can imagine, a lot of family history and trauma comes up when two sisters are traveling with their (likely dying) mother to the places and people who mattered to her most in her life.

There’s a lot to work through with my grandmother and her children, but while my mom doesn’t exactly try to hash it out—it’s still quite hurtful in many ways—my sister and I discuss it a lot when we’re on our own.

I loved my grandmother—she’d mellowed a bit by the time my sister and I came along. (In fact, she’d mellowed a lot by the time my mom’s sister came along, but that’s a different story….), 

Even so, she—along with my father; the two didn’t like each other, but they were unknowing allies in this—remains one of the few family members who were most brutal about our weight.

“For our own good,” of course.

This is yet another aspect of our family history that’s come up recently, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot today since I read this fascinating article on HuffPo: Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong 

The intro: 

For decades, the medical community has ignored mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perception and ruining millions of lives.

It’s time for a new paradigm.

Have you read Kristan Higgins’ GOOD LUCK WITH THAT yet? (Kirkus review here.)

This book has received so much grief from a lot of people, but I found it lovely. Hard to read, yes. But boy, at times, I saw so much of my own life in there. My grandmother wasn’t quite as bad as Georgia’s mom, but no question I see some of her in there.

One reason I wish more people would read the book is that I think a lot of people who aren’t fat, or who don’t struggle with their weight, might find some insight into what larger people go through. 

My brother-in-law has often shared how angry he gets when he goes to the doctor and is chastised for not exercising enough, when he routinely takes miles-long walks each week. Most doctors don’t even ask. They just lecture.

I think Higgins does a great job of spotlighting the kinds of casual contempt and shaming that people show larger people out of habit, often without even being aware of it.

I loved the book, and found it a fairly accurate account of the experiences I could relate to, and a believable look at the more extremely unhealthy choices larger people can make when they are isolated, depressed and—horrifically—even preyed on.

It’s a book about three women’s experiences. It’s not a treatise on all fat people everywhere. 

I found it hard to read at times, but hopeful and positive in the end.

Some people hated it. Lots of people loved it. I didn't love reading it, but I loved having read it.

So I recommend giving it a try. 

And read that HuffPo article too. Enlightening, heartbreaking, painful, hopeful. Kind of like GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults. 

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it's coming to terms with the survivor's guilt she's carried around since her twin sister's death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it's about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother's and brother's ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her. 

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson's dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves. 

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

Happy reading, happy soul searching, happy family days—and happy end-of-summer….