The Appetites of Girls (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

This debut novel tells stories about four college suitemates--Ruth, Fran, Opal, and Setsu--through the subtle lens of their relationships with food. This is not a light romp about girlhood and finding yourself. Instead, I found myself feeling hurt and bruised alongside these women. I was frustrated by their choices, helpless watching their trauma, and sometimes desperate to give them a much-needed hug. Ruth, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, cannot escape her controlling mother, illustrated most regularly in evening meals. I wanted to slap this mother so many times. Francesca is weighed down by Upper East Side expectations, and finds freedom in binging. Opal--oh, Opal--tries to emulate her resort-hopping mom's glamour and easy charm with men, with disastrous consequences. And then there's Setsu, whose adopted brother manipulates and controls the entire household, including Setsu's food portions. I wanted to slap him a few times, too.


Moses manages to cover a wide breadth of experiences in the lives of these four women--by turns relatable, heartbreaking, confused, and thwarted. A few times while reading, I had to put the book down and focus on something lighter, something easier, but I always felt compelled to return to these women and their stories. Maybe that's the best testament to the power of Moses' insight into some of the truly devastating and often subtle pressures placed on women at all stages of life.

— From Mary-Catherine Recommends

July 2014 Indie Next List

“The relationship women in Western culture have with food is complicated and often fraught with strange rituals and beliefs, unhealthy behavior, guilt, and shame. While potentially triggering for those currently struggling with an eating disorder, the stories shared by the four women in this book are heartfelt and encouraging. From their friendship as roommates at an Ivy League college, each woman's life is detailed through their relationships with food and with other people at defining points in their lives. Their struggles and emotions feel very real and are often all too familiar.”
— Samantha Gordon, The Library Shop, San Diego, CA


For the audience that made "Commencement "a "New York Times" bestseller comes a novel about women making their way in the world.

Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society mother and, to provoke her, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous mother's dinner dates until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous brother by allowing him to take the choicest morsels from her plate and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her own way in the world.

About the Author

Pamela Moses received a B.A. in comparative literature from Brown University and an M.A. in English from Georgetown University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two young children. "The Appetites of Girls" is her first novel.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399158421
ISBN-10: 0399158421
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Publication Date: June 26th, 2014
Pages: 372
Language: English