Anissa Gray's 'The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' Is #ReadWithMC's March Pick
Author Anissa Gray's debut novel, 'The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' has been chosen for MarieClaire.com's March #ReadWithMC book club pick. Find out Gray's inspiration for the novel and who she'd cast as the main characters in a film, here.
Welcome to MarieClaire.com's Q&A; author series—the spot where we ask the #ReadWithMC author-of-the-month five burning questions about her latest book. In March, we're reading The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Emmy Award–winning journalist Anissa Gray. If you're interested in the novel and looking for some friends to talk about it with, find out how to participate in MarieClaire.com's interactive monthly book club here.
Anissa Gray may be making her novel debut with The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, but she's been writing stories for decades. In fact, her career as a journalist has spanned more than 20 years, holding roles at Reuters and CNN, and earning Emmy and duPont-Columbia Awards for her work. "I felt a bit burnt out from journalism," she admits. "Writing a novel is a new way to see yourself and the world, and it's incredibly refreshing."
The Care and Feeding is an intimate account of family bonds told from the perspective of three sisters—Althea, Viola, and Lillian—who must come together when Althea, the eldest, and her husband are unexpectedly arrested. Each woman is portrayed in her own unique way, exploring themes of identity, forgiveness, and the complex role that hunger plays in their lives.
Here, Gray discusses the inspiration behind the book and how she developed her characters from her own personal experiences.
Marie Claire: What inspired you to write The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls?
Anissa Gray: Ironically, this isn't the book I set out to write. When I sat down to write The Care and Feeding the title was the same, but it was a story about someone who worked in an eating disorder clinic. It was largely based on my own experience with eating disorders and the treatment process. The main character was Viola rather than Althea.
I flailed around for about six months not really wanting to let go of that story. I kept writing, but the characters stayed with me. As I looked into Viola's back story with her family, I saw she had these sisters—they had their own stories and struggles. Once I opened the door to those voices they became incredibly resonant, and I became very interested in these characters. Viola is still very much a part of The Care and Feeding, but it's a much broader, richer story with those added voices.
MC: Why should people read this book now?
AG: It resonates with you no matter your age or race (it helps to be a woman, of course). You see a family that comes together in the face of a tragedy. Different characters are confronted with the question of forgiveness. How do you forgive someone who has done you harm? There are a lot of complex questions without a lot of easy answers.
Even though things are not wrapped up in a nice tiny bow, I hope readers will feel like they've read an honest story. I've told stories all of my professional life as a journalist, and now as a novelist. The heart of what I want to put out into the world is a good story. It sounds simple, but achieving it can be difficult.
MC: If you could be any character in the book, who you would be?
AG: I love all of the characters dearly, but I wouldn't want to be any of them. I have known some of the specific struggles Viola has faced in respect to recovery from an eating disorder and the difficulty of that...the insidious nature of the disorder. I was a few years out of treatment while writing it, and in a lot of ways it was cathartic.
MC: Who would play the main characters in a movie? Cast your protagonist and antagonist.
AG: I'm incredibly superstitious so I don't even allow myself to think in these terms, but because you asked...Viola Davis would be a great fit for Althea. For Viola, definitely short-haircut Halle Berry. For Lillian, I would love a bright, young actress like Tessa Thompson. She has the spark Lillian has.
MC: What's currently on your nightstand?
AG: I just finished reading Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. Next up is White Houses by Amy Bloom. I love pretty much anything Amy Bloom does.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.
Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.
The Perfumer Behind Last Year's Most Talked-About Fragrance Just Released Another Perfect Scent
Aqua Media Cologne forte embodies a feeling of balance and harmony.
By Deena Campbell
'Yellowface' Is Our June Book Club Pick
Read an excerpt from R.F. Kuang's latest novel, here, then dive in with us throughout the month.
By Brooke Knappenberger
I Scoured the Summer Runways—Here Are the Six Shoe Trends Actually Worth Buying
Hit the ground running this season.
By Emma Childs
Jo Piazza and Christine Pride Tackle the Complicated Topic of Motherhood in 'You Were Always Mine'
The forthcoming book from 'We Are Not Like Them' authors Jo Piazza and Christine Pride asks the question: Who gets to make the choice to be a mom?
By Danielle McNally
#ReadWithMC Reviews 'Mika in Real Life'
"When you are craving a loveable story with depth and true character development—this should be your next read."
By Brooke Knappenberger
'Token Black Girl' Is Our October Book Club Pick
Read an excerpt from Danielle Prescod's new memoir, here, then dive in with us throughout the month.
By Brooke Knappenberger
Amanda de Cadenet Wants Us to Start Listening to Men
With her new podcast, the host is hoping to gain a deeper understanding of modern masculinity and its role in advancing women’s rights.
By Emily Tisch Sussman
25 Books by Latinx Authors You Should Read Immediately
Stories so good, you won't need a bookmark.
By Bianca Rodriguez
'Mika In Real Life' Is Our September Book Club Pick
Read an excerpt from Emiko Jean's new novel, here, then dive in with us throughout the month.
By Jenny Hollander
Read an Excerpt From Sarah MacLean's 'Heartbreaker'
The latest entry in MacLean's 'Hell's Belles' universe is a delightfully feminist twist on Regency-era romance romps.
By Sarah MacLean
The 32 Best Self-Help Books for Women to Read in 2023
Consider them a form of self-care.
By Rachel Epstein