BOOK REVIEW: Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

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3/5 stars

This book remains one of the hardest to process that I’ve read as of late.

Rachel is a directionless twenty-something in LA, attempting a standup career. She’s replaced the Judaism of her childhood with a religious devotion to calorie counting, and her life falls into somewhat of a tailspin when she falls in love with Miriam, the Orthodox woman who works at Rachel’s favourite low-fat frozen yogurt shop.

There’s a lot here, about identity and religion and the enduring obsession with the 1,200 calorie diet despite it being about enough nutrition for a Labrador, not an adult human, but it all felt a bit disjointed. There are a lot of deeply unsettling scenes involving binge eating, brutal enough that I considered abandoning this book altogether, and even weeks later, I’m still not sure what exactly this book was trying to say. It hits so many familiar notes, with LA and lapsed Judaism and a tense mother-daughter relationship, that I felt like I was experiencing deja vu. Hadn’t I read this before? There are some interesting threads here surrounding Rachel and Miriam’s relationship and the lingering taboo of same-sex attraction in some communities, but ultimately it all fizzled out.

Broder is a talented writer and her descriptions are quite striking. I really wanted to like this book, but overall it was more a collection of interesting moments than a truly cohesive work–and one that might be too unnerving to hold the attention of most.

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www.blackwells.co.uk

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