Fat Free: The Amazing All-True Adventures of Supersize Woman!

Jude Milner, Author, Mary Wilshire, Illustrator . Penguin/Tarcher $10.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-58542-501-3

This autobiographical graphic novel by a psychotherapist is a good demonstration of the problems, shame and discrimination fat women face, but it's heavy-handed and not a well-realized story. Milner was a fat child who stole candy, ate compulsively at family barbecues and envied the "little Ginas," the "petite, delicate, real girlie-girls." Milner ran away, was raped, came home, went to college and finally found friends, even a lover. Her life gives us a sense of the worlds fat people may enter: dances where men who like fat women can meet them, and P.H.A.T., a group where women meet, eat and affirm themselves as beautiful and overweight. Unfortunately, only the main character comes across as real; everyone else feels like cutouts designed to prop up stages of Milner's evolution. Milner gets a degree in psychotherapy, but falls into phone sex. Then she meets a man who loves her and realizes that her friends from P.H.A.T. are headed for a life of wheelchairs and walkers. Wilshire's limpid-eyed charcoal sketches are sensitive and touching, and give a sophisticated sense of person and place. If anything saves the day, it's Wilshire's gorgeous art, not the message. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
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