The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl is exactly what it sounds like. Shauna Reid finds herself standing under a pair of size 26 cottontails and thinks, “Shit. They don’t get any bigger than 26.” This is where her adventures begin.
This is Shauna’s wake-up call, and this is when she decides to hit Weight Watchers. The day she starts to make changes, she also starts a blog, and The Amazing Adventures… is an edited collection of her blog posts.
Shauna’s writing is hilarious. This book works so well because while weight loss stories aren’t exactly thin on the ground, Shauna Reid gives a very familiar subject a very, very funny angle. She recalls her weight loss ups and downs with huge lashings of hyperbole and self-deprecating humour. The self-deprecating humour gets a little stale in the book’s final chapters – Shauna learns to love herself, but cannot seem to stop undermining herself in the name of a laugh. However, Shauna’s relationship with perspective provides both the hilarity and the gravity that the book needs to stay on the rails. For example, “The Vampire Method”. Shauna can see herself through an outsider’s eyes, but doesn’t let that stop her from achieving her goals. And so she starts exercising in the dark (either very early or very late) so that nobody can ever see her doing it. On the flip-side of this insight is her absolute blindness to how her beloved feels in return to her feelings, or her belief that revealing her former weight to new acquaintances will change their relationship.
Shauna’s weight-loss journey is inspirational, because it’s so realistic. She has hiccups along the way. She quits Weight Watchers, she gets a membership at a Fancy Gym and stops going for a while. She tucks into a giant jar of Nutella that she finds in her boyfriend’s pantry – and gets through all of it. It takes Shauna six years to lose enough weight to feel happy and comfortable in herself. Life’s not linear (or very rarely) in that “forward-march!” way, and the honesty of Shauna’s story is what makes this book enjoyable.
In fact, if you head to Shauna’s blog and read a more recent entry, you’ll find that her story’s still going, and still in a not-entirely-“forward-march!” way. She’s put some weight back on, and she’s now really trying to figure out how to live a well-balanced life, whether that means her “goal weight”, or a bit higher than what the BMI would have her believe. (Before anyone comments – yes, the BMI is crap.)
Honesty in memoir can end in one of two things – an overly gushy confessional, or a strong piece of work. Shauna’s book belongs in the latter category.