Book Club: The Shape of Us

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Author: Lisa Ireland
ISBN: 978-1-76055-087-5
RRP: $29.99

The Shape of Us is the story of four women struggling with their weight, I was in. This has been something I have struggled with throughout my life so it was a premise that I could really relate to.


The four leading ladies all join an online weight loss program called WON (Weight Off Now) that includes a member forum; I don’t think this program exists but there is certainly no shortage of weightloss programs that would be similar. The WON program offers support from women with similar goals from all across the country while still being able to maintain some anonymity, it seems like a wonderful opportunity. Unfortunately the anonymity can be a double edged sword because people often say things from behind their keyboard that they would not say in person.

In this digital age we are all connected to social media somehow and we do share a lot of ourselves but we are also very aware of the dangers. I’m sure there are many of us who can relate to the way these women have connected online and formed a real friendship. I have made some wonderful friendships online through Facebook gaming, reviewing and even a weightloss support group in my local area. Some of these friendships have stood the test of time and others have been more seasonal; either way it’s enough for me to understand the way these friendships can form online and translate into the real world.

The Shape of Us is a highly relatable story on many levels for me and the WON program did remind me of other programs I have seen. Mezz, Jewels, Ellie and Kate are very different women from different backgrounds and different parts of the country, the only tangible thing they really have in common is that they are overweight and want to do something about it. The member forum isn’t a medium any of them are feeling comfortable in so they create a mini forum of their own, a place that is truly without judgement and there they begin to share their lives.

I love the way the story was written and placed on the page as well because we got right inside our characters heads. The narrative is made up of blog posts from each of the women interspersed with their real time lives in alternating chapters. It gives us the chance to see them from both sides.

Four overweight women from different walks of life and little in common except their desire to lose weight and regain their happiness. There is so much to love about this, and so much that I could relate to on a very personal level. One of the big lessons that I came out of this book with is that everyone is on their own journey and each of them is different. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another and that’s ok. I think that’s probably the strongest part, it’s ok that what works for each of us is different and in the long run sometimes it’s not the end result that matters but what you learn along the way.

The WON program doesn’t work for any of these women but it brought them together so that makes it worthwhile, they don’t follow the program and they don’t need to post in the forum once they have their private one. The program doesn’t work but that doesn’t mean they give up, they find other methods; some more effective than others and some a lot more controversial.

Weightloss brings the women together but it isn’t long before they are sharing their whole lives and building a friendship that will see them through all that life has to throw at them, and they face a lot.

Each of the women have different reasons for wanting to lose the weight and different effects they would like it to have on their life but it was Jewels that I really connected with. She is having trouble conceiving and the doctor has told her that her best chance at conception will be after some significant weight loss, while her sister has just discovered she’s pregnant with baby number four.

I loved watching the evolution of this friendship between women with very different opinions and the way they offer support and refrain from judgement, for the most part. This is something that a lot of people could take something away from, they didn’t always agree but they were always supportive. They shared their opinion and then supported their friend through decisions they didn’t necessarily agree with.

We travel with Jewels, Mezz, Ellie and Kat through break-ups, breakdowns and a variety of different weightloss methods. In the end they all make some major changes but I think the best one was the mindset change.

The Shape of Us is ultimately a book about friendship and support but at it’s heart there is a strong message of learning to love who you are and realising the number on the scales doesn’t define you.

I think this book has come to me at a perfect time because I do struggle with my weight and I would love to change it but I don’t have the discipline for a strict regime. Everyone needs to find their own way and find what works for them, as well as learning to love the body they are in and what it does for them. My body has grown four beautiful children and nourished them so I really need to cut it some slack and then I need to fuel it, move it, look after it and grow to love it.

This is a book I would recommend wholeheartedly to all women, it’s a story of friendship and support that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

The Shape of Us is book #14 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Lisa Ireland can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

The Shape of Us is published by Pan Macmillan and is available in April from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Shape of Us so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I can not wait to hear what our readers think.

11 thoughts on “Book Club: The Shape of Us

  1. I have just finished reading “The shape of u” and it literally altered my view on life and the “diet craze” that somewhere or other, somehow or other , most of us seem to go through during the course of our years… I felt a close bond with the four women, as deep down they were all very lonely and not able to find what it was they needed to get the weight off… I have just come out of a unusual accident, had to be operated on, and my weight went down in a month some 10 k.g. It has picked up, and I noticed now only 5 kg less than xmas. Each of the woman in the story has her own battle, whether it being weight, husbands, wishing to fall pregnant or needing companship and finding it in the group they make. I enjoyed reading it, and the outcome for each and every woman was not what I expected, but made a wonderful read……. would love to see if there is a follow up to this book, going on with the story as such and the people that are involved in it.

  2. I loved the book it was about four women who want to lose weight for all different reasons. They all join this forum online to lose weight is not all that easy, they had to be real about themselves no made up stories.
    I could not put the book down it was a good read I recommend you read this book not only for women who are overweight.

  3. Thankyou to Pan Macmillan Australia for the opportunity to read The Shape of Us by Lisa Ireland.
    This is a book about 4 women from different areas of Australia. They each are at a different stage in their lives….looking to start a family or have a complete family, They have different occupations, different personalities.
    They meet on an online weight loss program. Their desire to loose weight is what they have in common.
    The forum and program turns out to be not for them, but they continue their friendship by forming their own chat line. They each choose different methods to continue their weight loss journey. They decide to meet at a girl’s weekend away. Their friendship grows strong and they support each other in the choices they make, even if they don’t agree with that particular weight loss method.

    The Shape of Us is not just about their physical shape, but also emotional shape they are in.
    It is a book about 4 women’s friendship, we relate to them through their lives and everyday family dramas!
    A thoroughly enjoyable book ! It is a book for everyone!

  4. I was lucky to receive a copy of Lisa Ireland’s The Shape of Us to review for the Beauty and Lace Book Club. What I really enjoyed about this book was the poignant portrayal of the relationships between the central female characters, each of which cop their fair share of disappointment and tragedy. To be honest, I became far more attached to some of the characters than expected and found the ending extremely emotionally draining, which says a lot about the power of this book. I also enjoyed the locations used as many are familiar to me. Overall an enjoyable read which deals with many issues of our time. I would recommend this to friends and family. Thanks to Beauty and Lace, Pan MacMillan and Lisa Ireland for the opportunity to review The Shape of Us.

  5. This book is a wonderful read, it is about four overweight women who meet online a weight loss. They become friends and, develop strong bonds that helps them get through the tough times. I like how the characters realise that weight is an extremely personal issue. The four girls, Mezz, Ellie, Jewels and Kat, think all they need to do is lose a few kilos and life will change and be amazing.

    This is a story about female friendships and the characters are interesting and i really liked their ideas, I found the story genuine and I related to it.

    I highly recommend this book!

  6. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to review The Shape of Us by Lisa Ireland.

    The Shape of Us is about four women who are at different stages of their lives who want to lose weight for different reasons.

    They join an online forum that is for people who are wanting to lose weight. A forum where they had to be honest and real with themselves and others.Even though the forum is not for them, they remain in contact on an online chat line.

    It really is an emotional connection they have rather than connecting over weight loss. I found the characters relatable and lonely at times.

    I loved the book and couldn’t wait to keep reading to the end. I recommend this book highly.

  7. I loved this book!
    It’s a story about women who want to loser weight for different reasons, they develope great friendships through an online forum. But for me the thing that reasonates is the inner dialogue.
    The terrible things we think about ourselves. Reading this book has made me want to work on that.
    It’s well written and flows easily really enjoyable book. X

  8. Thanks Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillian for having the chance to read and review this book.
    I enjoyed it for many reasons. Although I have struggled with my weight (and body image) my adult life, I would not be seen as obese by any means but at the upper level of normal bordering on overweight. Problem is simple. Love food, hate exercise. Not a good combo! I try and eat as healthy as I can so I can cheat and I try and do some exercise but I certainly don’t love it! I was able to relate, even in a small way, with each of the women characters. Their families, partners, jobs, struggles with life, and not just weight but also the deeper issues that have lead to them being the weight they are and what lead them to join an online weight loss community called WON. It even has one of those annoying, bossy (bully!), bitchy, “I am so superior” contributors that is eventually put in her place.
    Heartwarming, funny, real, relatable and hard to put down, I would have picked this one up in a bookstore and read the blurb, considered buying it but wasn’t familiar with the author so would have put it back on the shelf. So glad I was able to actually read it!
    Safe to say, Lisa Ireland has a new fan and follower thanks to the opportunity of being able to read this, enjoy it and share my experience with other readers. Thanks again B&L.

  9. Wow what a fabulous book! I wanted to savour and push this read out as long as possible, each night once all the kids were in bed I’d relax reading this beauty. I didn’t want it to end.
    We follow 4 women who meet on a weight loss forum and become best friends over time. We follow the four women who are each dealing with personal issues, they help each other and along the way find that life isn’t all so bad with a few extra kilos, life is so much more than that. It really makes you re-think how you view your body image…it did for me anyway.
    I loved the ending and wasn’t left with unanswered questions, I finised this book content.
    Easily 5 out of 5 stars from me and will recommend to my book lover friends.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace, Pan McMillan and Lisa Ireland for this fab read xx 🙂

  10. I absolutely loved this book. The Shape Of Us, spoke to me personally and I am sure it would speak to women universally as well.
    The story is about 4 women, all in different situations, but all trying to lose weight. They are brought together through an online forum WON (Weight Off Now) and come to know each other a little more personally, then create their own online forum.
    This is really about how we go about things generally in life, as women, and the situations that present themselves to us, and how we handle them and can really support each other.
    Each womans story is different, but it is the friendships that are a result of getting to know one another more personally that is the real tale.
    I very easily related to this story, and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good read.

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