Published by Berkley on August 7th 2018
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New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, in her newest novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.
Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.
For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.
But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.
A novel of compassion and insight, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.
What was your inspiration for writing Good Luck with That?
The first time I realized I was “too fat,” I was four years old. Four! Can you believe it? A grown man told me I was too chubby in front of a bunch of other girls. For the rest of my childhood and well into my twenties, I struggled to be pretty enough, thin enough, because I had this wrongful idea that life would be better if I could just pull that off. Being thin is a message women and girls (and men and boys, but mostly females) get from everywhere, all the time, and it takes a toll—on our psyches, self-esteem, physical selves, everything.
Good Luck with That addresses all these issues in an honest, compassionate, sometimes raw way—how hard it is to accept yourself in a world obsessed with thigh gap. We all want to get to a place of self-acceptance and kindness, but damn, it can be hard.
Emerson, Georgia and Marley are all at different places with regarding to self-acceptance and self-love. Where are you in your journey to self-acceptance and self-love?
I think the journey is ongoing for most of us. It is for me, but I’m better these days. When I had my daughter, I wanted to model better attitudes and behavior for her…and I was still in that “look what I just did” phase of motherhood, because after years of trying, I’d had a healthy baby. I still have my days of wishing to be thinner, or days when food is the boss of me, but I’m better at handling those. I remember that I can walk, breathe, that I have friends and family who love me, and those are the things that really matter.
Has writing this book helped you to speak with friends or those close to you about body image in a way that you couldn’t before?
Yes! One of the things that Good Luck with That covers is how hard it is to admit your body image demons. We all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and yet we live in a society that idolizes women for how they look, how fit they are, how curvy, how slim, whatever. Looks still matter, even when they shouldn’t. So my friends and I have had some really deep conversations about shifting the narrative, being kinder to ourselves, appreciating our bodies as they are right this minute.
What have you learned about body image and self-acceptance that you wish you’d known years ago?
That it IS possible to put aside all those “if only I was thinner” thoughts and make room for better things. All that thought, time, worry, money we spend to chase an impossible idea could be much better spent on things that will actually bring happiness. Because size doesn’t.
Female friendship is such a vital element of the book. How important do you think female friendship is for helping us to see ourselves in a more positive light? Or to be kinder to ourselves?
I think friendship is incredibly necessary to self-esteem. If we’re lucky, we have friends who see the best in us, who don’t envy good fortune, who are there when the chips are down, and most of all, who see us and love us as we are. And there are some issues that only women understand, as nice as your male friends or partner might be. I think weight is one of them.
Struggling with body image is sadly something that many of us struggle with for one reason or another. What were some of the responses from early readers for this book? Did anything surprise you?
Yes! I’ve had dozens of early readers contact me to say that this book was a game-changer. While that was the message of the book, I was overwhelmed to hear how deeply the book hit so many real-life readers. One woman said she threw out all her Spanx; another said she’d always been self-conscious about being overweight, but after reading Good Luck with That, sent a naked picture to her husband. He made it home in record time. There was a bad kind of surprise, too—a fellow writer stated she thought I was “too skinny” to write a book about women who struggle with weight. She doesn’t know me or my experiences with food and self-image, so I took it with a grain of salt. An author’s job is to build on her own experiences; if we only wrote about people exactly like us, the book world would be pretty dull.
How do you hope readers will feel after they read Good Luck with That?
Affirmed, excited, happy, seen and empowered. And a little weepy, too, because the book is over.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Kristan Higgins, thank you. Thank you for writing one of the most important books ever written, for writing this year’s best book, and one of the best books ever written. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT is told in the first person from the point of view of three overweight women, one being Emerson’s diary. Anyone of us who has ever struggled with their weight will recognise themselves at some point; those who have not will have known someone who has, even if only celebrities; others will have made fun of those “unsightly fatties”, and this book is for every one of us. The latter might find a way to understand that it’s not about not having willpower, about being weak, about being a lesser human being; that those who do not correspond to one’s “ideal standards” might deserve better than scorn and derision, and being bullied. Before writing my review, I read some other readers’ thoughts, and I was appalled that some reviewers saw GOOD LUCK WITH THAT as a book about silly women obsessing over food; I would suggest they have a second – objective – look at the book and try to understand, if only why that’s the way they feel about the characters and the issues.
Kristan Higgins writes with extraordinary compassion, sensitivity, honesty, and insight about a subject that might be our society’s most disturbing taboo – fat women – without glossing over the facts. The author paints a picture of excruciating, painful clarity of what it is to be fat, to “think” fat, and Ms. Higgins has, in Emerson, Marley, and Georgia – and Mason – created unforgettable characters, so genuine that I identified with each of them in turns. There are the happy moments and heartbreaking ones, the challenges, the pain, the shame, the hope, the rage, the despair, the small and great triumphs. I gasped, utterly shocked when I “saw” my own late mother in a few places. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT is not cute and funny; it is a very serious book, very heavy, and so very dark at the beginning, but slowly rays of light start slipping between those black clouds and soon that oppressive, crushing darkness lifts little by little. There are some moments of dazzling humour, as well as some shattering ones that had me crying so much it hurt. I hurt for those women, for myself, for you who have suffered this kind of pain. Yes, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT is about obesity, but it also concerns anyone who feels the need to become invisible in a judgemental society that basically denies them the right to live a normal life because they are “different”.
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT might not be the book you want to read “right now”; you do need to be in the right frame of mind to get lost in it, but I sincerely believe that everyone should read it eventually. Come to it with an open mind, with an open heart, and let those characters speak to you. If you read only one book this year, if you read only one book in your life, make it GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, because it’s a book that really matters. Live. Be. Now.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.