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Review: ‘Gluten-Free Girl’ by Shauna James Ahern

Title: Gluten Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too
Author: Shauna James Ahern
Genre: Memoir
Year: 2007
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review: Shauna James Ahern grew up in a family where boxed and processed foods were the norm. After years of feeling perpetually under the weather, always slow to recover from illness and generally feeling worn out and torn down, Ahern was diagnosed with celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten. After her diagnosis, Ahern began to explore food in a new way, starting a blog to write about her experiences learning to love food and her life again. Gluten-Free Girl is a memoir of her experiences and a manifesto about how to eat well (regardless of whether or not you can eat gluten).

What I liked about this book was that reading it felt like a joyful experience. Yes, Ahern is very opinionated about food and how to eat well (no one who writes a book like this wouldn’t be). But in that forcefulness is a really sense of happiness, of wanting other people to be able to follow her journey and find a way to love food as much as she does and find food that can make life better. That’s something I get (whether or not I actually practice it in what I eat) and that I like to read.

However, I was disappointed in the overall cohesion of the book. It felt like each of the chapters was written as a separate essay (a separate blog post, perhaps?), and then no one went back and read all of them together as carefully as they could have. This left quite a few repetitive anecdotes and phrases that came out in many of the essays. The first time I’d read an anecdote I’d really like it, but by the end of the book I’d read it more than enough times. Still, this is a particular pet peeve of mine, and I’m not sure how many other people would notice, as each chapter stands up quite well on its own.

Gluten-Free Girl is a memoir about love, food, and being in love with food, and learning to make choices about what you eat that make food into something that makes life better rather than just a necessity. If that love is something you agree with you aspire too, there are lessons to be learned in this book.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) November 29, 2011, 2:29 pm

    I like memoirs, and could probably overlook the repetition if the book was good enough.

    • Kim November 29, 2011, 8:10 pm

      I think if the topic interests you, then this is a good memoir to take a look at.

  • Kathleen November 29, 2011, 4:26 pm

    I’ve read a fair amount of memoirs lately and have gotten pretty picky about the ones I read. I’m not sure if this one would go to the top of my list but I do think I’d be willing to give it a try at some point. I have a friend with celiac disease who might enjoy this one sooner than I will. I will recommend it to her!

    • Kim November 29, 2011, 8:12 pm

      I definitely think this is a great one for people with celiac disease, or really any sort of food allergy or condition, would get a lot out of this one.

  • Trisha November 29, 2011, 8:59 pm

    That sort of repetition would really annoy me. I do like the subject matter though as my aunt has celiac as well.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:28 pm

      I’d never heard of celiac until just recently, but now it seems to be all over the place. I liked that this book made living with a gluten intolerance seem like something manageable, as it seems really hard to me.

  • Vasilly November 29, 2011, 9:05 pm

    I don’t think I can read this because of the repetition. After awhile, I’ll probably start crossing out passages. :-)

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:28 pm

      Lol, that’s tempting! I think on their own, each chapter/essay is really lovely, but as a whole it’s a titch repetitive.

  • Kailana November 29, 2011, 9:13 pm

    I am starting to think people should just not eat gluton… It is too bad this didn’t work a bit better, though.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:29 pm

      I am too. I don’t think I have an issue with gluten myself, but I can see the benefit of adjusting your diet to be more whole foods for other reasons.

  • Jess - A Book Hoarder November 29, 2011, 10:40 pm

    This sounds like something my mom may actually be interested in. She is trying to help my step-dad with his eating habits and I think the organization of the chapters may actually work in their favor as she eases into convincing him to eat better.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:29 pm

      I did love the way each chapter took on a different type of food and offered recipes to try that were related. It made it an interesting cookbook/handbook/memoir, which I liked.

  • Amused November 30, 2011, 4:23 pm

    I’m sorry this one wasn’t as good in the execution because I have a friend who recently went gluten free and when I saw your post I thought this might be a good gift for her!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:30 pm

      You know, I really do think this would be a great gift for a person working on going gluten free, even with some of the problems I had with the organization. The author is really lovely and has such joy about eating, it’s infectious. I think that optimism would be good for a person who is working on going gluten free themselves.