MOOSE: A Memoir of Fat Camp

Stephanie Klein of "Greek Tragedy" blog fame talks about fat camp in this deeply personal but poorly organized memoir about control.

Stephanie Klein’s mother takes her daughter to a nutritionist at age 8 and sends her to fat camp beginning at 12. Such are the starting points of the complicated relationship between the author of this deeply personal memoir and her weight. In the wised-up voice of hindsight, she revisits a summer spent at fat camp, incorporating excerpts from her youthful (and crush-filled) diaries, as well as her discombobulating experience as an adult, after a lifetime of trying to lose weight, of being pregnant with twins and her doctor insisting that she needs to gain 50 pounds.

The title of the book is a name Klein was called by her middle-school peers, and this story, much like the bulk of adolescence, is about reconciling her view of herself with the perceptions coming from friends, enemies, family, professionals, and from the boys in their own cabins at camp. It’s about control and about not being controlled by food.

Less controlled, though, is the narrative. There are meandering tangents, and the diary excerpts that open each chapter tend to be unrelated to the stories within the chapters. For whatever reason, Klein compresses five summers at camp into one summer, which creates inconsistencies in the timeline. Her honesty is compelling and oftentimes highly relatable amidst her particular experiences, but the book is a little too scattered, listing events instead of sweeping us along.