Fragrant, delectable homemade Pakistani dishes are central to Rabia Chaudry's touchingly warm and intimate narrative in Fatty Fatty Boom Boom. A woman who grew up besieged by harmful comments about her weight and appearance, Chaudry is an uplifting storyteller, and her humor-laden anecdotes balance the underlying gravity of her story with grace and skill.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Chaudry moved with her parents to Northern Virginia when her veterinarian father was offered a job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1970s. Misguided efforts to make their scrawny toddler look like her American counterparts included feeding her two bottles of half and half daily and letting her gnaw on frozen butter sticks. As an overweight girl with a dark complexion, Chaudry was constantly reminded of her "future unmarriageability" by an immigrant community preoccupied with their daughters' marriage prospects. She got married early, while in college, to an unsuitable boy in an effort to disprove the naysayers.
An advocate for Adnan Syed, the young man convicted of murdering his high school ex-girlfriend in 1999, Chaudry was an executive producer of an HBO documentary based on her book, Adnan's Story. Being in the media spotlight made her self-conscious about her weight and frustrated that she couldn't take control of her own body. Eventually, her path toward improved health and fitness and inner contentment, plagued with many false starts, came with the hard-won wisdom of someone accustomed to being criticized for her appearance. It turns out that, for Chaudry, wresting control of her own narrative from those eager to pass judgment ultimately opened the door to self-acceptance. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer