In present-day New York City, five women meet in a basement support group to process their traumas. Bernice grapples with the fallout of dating a psychopathic, blue-bearded billionaire. Ruby, once devoured by a wolf, now wears him as a coat. Gretel questions her memory of being held captive in a house made of candy. Ashlee, the winner of a Bachelor-esque dating show, wonders if she really got her promised fairy-tale ending. And Raina's love story will shock them all. Though the women start out wary of one another, judging each other's stories, gradually they begin to realize that they may have more in common than they supposed . . . What really brought them here? What secrets will they reveal? And is it too late for them to rescue one another?
How to Be Eaten never quite lives up to its premise, making for a frustrating read ... There is a certain delight in seeing how Adelman transforms well-known fairy tales and fairy tale tropes into the modern world ... The conceit of bringing these women together in a weekly trauma support group means that each of the women tells her story through the course of one of the group’s meetings ... But without a compelling plot, none of the disparate elements ever quite jell together, making the book feel like an extended collection of short stories.
Adelmann shatters 'happily ever after,' showing how the women’s lives are haunted in the aftermath of their disturbing experiences, and brilliantly brings to light the historical exploitation and manipulation of female trauma in the media. With the current fascination with true crime and reality television, this powerful first novel holds up a mirror to the reader and challenges our perceptions of truth.
Darkly comedic ... How to Be Eaten requires some small suspensions of disbelief, which Adelmann expertly crafts to parallel the same suspensions required to truly believe the stories of each woman in this group ... Adelmann invites readers to think about the power of stories and storytelling, and the often fine line between making space for others' stories and making entertainment (and profit) out of the same. A sardonic, poignant novel that moves in unexpected directions across each and every page, How to Be Eaten is a whip-smart invitation to reimagine familiar fairy tales in a modern age.