A modern day vampire who is just as lost as the rest of us, but is maybe dealing with a challenge that none of us have.
Woman, Eating is a story about Lydia, a “twenty something” woman who is a vampire. She has spent her whole life with her mother, but now her mother has been diagnosed with dementia and is living in an assisted living home. So for the first time ever Lydia must try and make it on her own, and it is proving to be more difficult than she thought.
This book spends a lot of time talking about identity and familial trauma. Lydia fears people recognizing her as a vampire, she sees it in the looks people give her, the snide or hateful comments they throw her way, but in reality what is happening is they are being racist. Lydia is half Japanese and half Malaysian and full vampire, but she feels like none of those things completely. She forgets about her appearance, focusing solely on what she is, but she never forgets who her parents were or where they came from. There is a lot of talk about Japanese food and Lydia’s desire to eat it and have it fill her up (this is a running theme and is about all food types). Lydia is complicated, and her relationship with herself is messy and uncertain, something definitely borne from her relationship with her mother.
The really interesting exploration in this book was how Lydia’s mother affected her and her life. The ways her mother let her down, shaped her, forced her to live life, and the ways that those things manifest for Lydia in the present day. Mother-Daughter relationships are always complex, and this one is rife with problems. Subtly, as well as overtly, Kohda demonstrates the nuance of such a relationship and how one decision can affect so many others, and that each decision is not as simple as it may seem. I loved this, and I loved that not only was Lydia a flawed and wounded person, so was her mother. Allowing both things to exist makes this book a true look at life.
I really enjoyed this book. I did have one hang up that I don’t personally think needed to happen the way it did. I also felt like one component of the story wasn’t really built up that well so the impact of its resolution was a bit underwhelming. My biggest gripe with this book is that it’s not gay haha. I mean I laugh, but it’s true. I feel like adding a queer component to this story would have really contributed to what it was already going for. And there was an opportunity for it to happen, it was touched and teased so briefly, but alas, not gay. On the whole, I think if this book interests you, you should pick it up. If you’re looking for a more thrilling vampire story I say look elsewhere. This is a slow, character-driven story about a woman being lost in her life.