02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book Review: The Earth Does Not Get Fat by Julia Prendergast

Review by Nik Shone.

This is a book you should 100% add to your collection. It is above all a story of love and a journey to find the truth behind closed doors.

Julia Prendergast’s debut novel The Earth Does Not Get Fat is a carefully crafted and beautiful piece of Australian literature. In a work that bares the hardships experienced by real people and how that suffering can be spread through generations, Prendergast writes her characters with total affection and an undeniable talent for revealing the brutal realities of their lives. We see in this novel what life can be like for people affected by trauma and dementia, and the series of complicated emotions experienced by the teenage Chelsea when she becomes the full time carer for not only her mother, but her grandfather as well. Chelsea does this all out of love and shows a deep attachment to the both of them and an intrinsic personal need to do it all on her own. Prendergast does not shy from the gritty details of Chelsea’s life as a carer and she does not hesitate to deliver that sense of heartbreak to her readers.

She can’t get up for days at a time and her hair is greasy and her breath is bad. She can’t talk to you and her eyes can’t look at you. And her skin is yellow and wrong. Promise me you won’t think she’s disgusting and horrible. She’s my mum. You can’t be mean to her because she can’t help that she looks revolting…You can’t judge her, please. She looks whacked out and disgusting. You have to remember that she’s really beautiful. (p65-68)

The Earth Does Not Get Fat explores typical Australian attitudes and ways of life. And does so in such a way that mirrors Australian life and culture. Chelsea seeks the truth of her mother’s past. She is driven by her love for her family and her will to do the best she can by them despite living under difficult circumstances. The reader is taken on a journey with Chelsea as she learns the truth of her family’s past and of events that changed the course of their lives. Prendergast delivers the story in a realistic Australian voice with a careful love for words and a promise to reveal the horrible truths of this family’s life toward an understanding of their suffering.

The Earth Does Not Get Fat is above all else a story of love. A behind-closed-doors love that shows the unwavering resilience and support Chelsea gives to her mother and her Grandpa. Chelsea sets out to uncover the truth of her family and the traumatic secrets left buried at sea. The story takes the reader behind the curtain into Chelsea’s world and the reader learns with her the secrets of her mother’s life as she patiently listens to the painful, barefaced stories of her past.