Sunday, July 14, 2013


Moose by Stephanie Klein

Stephanie Klein was on the fringe of the women I followed when I first started blogging. I read her blog a few times but it never really became part of my regular reading list. I do remember other bloggers though discussing when she released this memoir though, so it has always been on the back of my mind on that long (long) list of books I would like to eventually read.

My freshmen Academic & Honors students read Ernest Gains' short story, "The Sky is Gray." It is a story rich in symbolism and connotation. It is often criticized though for the unrealistic narration of an 8 year old. It's just not believable that James, the young protagonist, would have the deep insight that his first person narrative portrays.

Klein's narration of this memoir presents the same problems for me. The majority of the narrative is  reflection on the abbreviated summer spent at "fat camp" before her freshman year of high school. Included also are sprinkling of family dynamics and school isolation before the camp and a glimpse at her life as a young adult and then mother, still plagued by the weight-conscious issues of her youth. Being told through the reflection of an adult causes a large portion of her childhood tales to lose authenticity for me. Events being presented as fact seem more the self-reflective analysis of an adult rather than the views and ideas of a child and teen. Some instances too are just to hard to believe, specifically those involving sexual desires at an abnormally young age.

At other times though, reading the memoir was like connecting a Judy Blume book of my own early teens. I am anticipating the new sitcom and movie this summer based on camps, even though they seem to be rather tongue-in-cheek. They, much like this novel, have a very 80's flavor to the heart of it... as most summer camp plots do for me.

For a memoir, it is rich in characters. However, as would be expected of a real-life story, it doesn't pull the reader through with mounting suspense, an unexpected climax and a neatly resolved conclusion. Rather some of the biggest issues of the narration are left unresolved, as they often are in our lives.

Moose is a story of a childhood evolved into an adulthood that is framed and defined by weight. Klein defined her successes and her failures, her loves and her hates, her good days and her bad by the numbers on the bathroom scale. The reflection is personal, vast, and encompassing of all the self-induced loathing and body-image distortions that women, and girls, face. It delved into not only females who pin the target to the chest of their own reflection but also closely examines the relationship between those who turn that judgment and ostracizing on one another.

It would hard for me to believe that a woman, and maybe even a few men, of any size or any stage of self-loathe vs. love could not find a way to connect with this memoir and reflect upon their own life.

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