The author of The Pisces returns with a novel about disordered eater Rachel, who finds herself falling for Miriam, the Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite yogurt shop and helps Rachel learn to honor her own desires.
Broder can make even a cranky secular-Jewish queer reader like me, who typically chafes at magical realism and wet-blankets flights of fancy, eagerly suspend disbelief. Broder has a rare ability to ground her fantasy in reality without undermining her her imaginative vision, making it feel personal and raw and relatable. In another writer’s hands, the two women and their relationship might have presented as little more than a literary device to lead us to Rachel’s awakening, and that certainly could have been effective. But Broder’s goes deeper than allegory—with humanity, sardonic wit, and erotic scenes so potent that the heat of my blushing face made my NYC-apartment radiator’s seem tepid, Milk-Fed vividly evokes the lives of each woman, so that we’re fully invested in them, whether or not they seem recognizable to us. It adds to the profound pleasure of following what could have been a too-familiar trajectory of a lost soul seeking meaning and finding love—because, as she initially grudgingly allows herself to capitulate to her appetites, she isn’t just learning how to love others, in her own way and on her own terms, but to love herself.
With hints of Jami Attenberg’s mishpucha and spiced with Jennifer Weiner’s chutzpah, it is graphic, tender and poetic. Melissa Broder’s approach is perfectly sautéed lesbianism, a rom-com that turns serious ... For those who enjoyed Broder’s The Pisces, much of Milk Fed will be welcome in its familiarity. But this is an even better book that’s enhanced by its Jewishness, its ripeness, its dreams.