Roxane Gay’s “Hunger” was a difficult book to read and even harder one for the author to write. It is the story of her “unruly body and unruly appetites,” a before-and-after view of a body and soul devastated by a gang rape at twelve and the massive overeating that followed. Her way to fill up the hollowness—the hunger—inside her.

As she makes clear, this is not a weight loss victory story. It is instead a “book about disappearing and being lost and wanting so very much, wanting to be seen and understood…learning, however slowly, to be seen and understood.”

And that, to me, was the heart of the story. We all want to be seen and understood. At the root of so much misery and self-inflicted punishment, this is what we’re looking for. To be seen, understood, accepted and loved. And we don’t get it; we look for other ways to satisfy that hunger—food, drugs, alcohol, love in all the wrong places.

Gay also observes that one of the most shocking discoveries about sexual assault is just how common it is. How it has riven and ruined so many lives in ways we’re not even aware of. How many lifestyle diseases (eating disorders, addictions, domestic abuse) are the result of hearts and minds being broken on such an existential level? And most of us have no idea.

This is an angry book, and no wonder. It’s gripping and repellant in equal measure. While there is no weight loss celebration at the end, you get the sense that Ms Gay has at last found some peace and happiness. And because she writes so compellingly of her experiences and emotions, you’re happy for her.

“Hunger” is a heartbreaking book about profound loss, resilience and compassion for your { self } and others. Please read it.