One of Nylon's "50 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2017"
One of Chicago Reader's "Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2017"
A father searches for his addict son while grappling with his own choices as a parent (and as a user of sorts).
In Lindsay Hunter's achingly funny, fiercely honest second novel, Eat Only When You're Hungry, we meet Greg - an overweight 58-year-old and the father of Greg Junior, GJ, who has been missing for three weeks. GJ's been an addict his whole adult life, disappearing for days at a time, but for some reason this absence feels different, and Greg has convinced himself that he's the only one who can find his son. So he rents an RV and drives from his home in West Virginia to the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, the last place GJ was seen. As we travel down the streets of the bizarroland that is Florida, the urgency to find GJ slowly recedes into the background, and the truths about Greg's mistakes - as a father, a husband, a man - are uncovered.
In Eat Only When You're Hungry, Hunter elicits complex sympathy for her characters, asking the listener to take a closer look at the way we think about addiction - why we demonize the junkie but turn a blind eye to drinking a little too much or eating too much - and the fallout of failing ourselves.
Maybe I was too distracted to fully take this in.....but I really feel as if this story lacked everything! Boring and uneventful.
This is a darkly funny, richly literary story that recognizes some of the most mundane things that happen to people and makes them interesting and thought provoking in a way I would’ve never imagined independently. Hunter puts our insecurities and emotional survival to the forefront here through the spirit of the characters in this novel. I couldn’t help but relate in small ways with various characters. That was my favorite part about this novel, the human element.
There is a ton about addiction and dealing with a loved one who suffers from severe polysubstance addiction. The main character Greg is divorced, overweight, and struggling himself in so many ways but decides to take a road trip to look for his missing son (GJ) who is an extreme addict. While Greg is looking for his son, the reader learns a lot about Greg himself and his own problems. Like many real life family addiction situations, Greg loves his son but is so burnt out from the continuous fall out of his sons use that he doesn’t even know what to do for himself much less his son.
Hunter’s mind works in a way that others don’t when exploring the human experience. Hunter’s work in this book reminds me of one of my favorite writers AM Homes, so if you are a fan of hers then pick up this book. To be honest though, while I liked this book, I loved Hunter’s previous book, Ugly Girls. So in comparing Hunter’s own work is why I will likely give it 4 stars instead of 5 stars. Ugly Girls has the human elements Eat Only When You’re Hungry has, but also contains more tension and violence which gives it more action and made it more appealing to me. Honestly, the stars don’t mean much. If you want to read a book that will make you laugh and feel uncomfortable at the same time then give it a try.