Milk Fed

Melissa Broder

Milk Fed
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
United Kingdom
31 May 2022

Milk Fed

Melissa Broder

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of control by way of obsessive food rituals. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine.

Then Rachel meets Miriam, a young Orthodox Jewish woman intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam - by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family - and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

Pairing superlative emotional insight with unabashed vivid fantasy, Melissa Broder tells a tale of appetites: of physical hunger, of sexual desire, of spiritual longing. Milk Fed is a tender and riotously funny meditation on love, certitude, and the question of what we are all being fed, from one of our major writers on the psyche - both sacred and profane.


Milk Fed, Melissa Broder’s latest novel (following The Pisces), is a funny, sexy feast of a story about indulgence, self-denial and female love. Rachel is a bored, lonely and cynical atheistic Jewish girl in her mid-20s who works as an assistant for a talent management company in Los Angeles. She has no partner or friends to speak of. She lives alone and her days are dominated by thoughts of food and the anticipation of her next meal. But thanks to a life under the judgement of her fat-phobic mother, Rachel is also obsessed with remaining skinny. She counts her calories meticulously, and finds her joy in spoonfuls of Splenda, low-cal protein bars, and best of all, her daily cup of fat-free, sugar-free, low-carb frozen yoghurt (no toppings) from the Yo!Good yoghurt bar near her work.

Prompted by her questionable therapist, Rachel begins a no-contact detox from her mother and uses “Theraputticals” putty to craft an overweight doll that is meant to resemble her worst fears. The doll goes missing and, soon after, the Yo!Good counter boy is replaced with an orthodox Jewish girl with light blue eyes, pink lips, rolls of fat under her clothes, and three moles on her neck that look like chocolate drops. Her name is Miriam and not only does she wilfully ignore Rachel’s instructions to only fill the cup to the line, she thoroughly covers the yoghurt with free rainbow sprinkles. The dam cracks, and Rachel finds herself sliding into a world of flavour, feasting, lust and obsession that may not be as bad for her as she thinks it is.

Broder has written another story about chasing desire, but this time it’s hopeful. You can taste all the food in this book and the sex scenes are excellent, but aside from its sensuous triumphs, there is a deep sweetness and generosity at the heart of this story that is downright moving.

Anna Thwaites is a bookseller at Readings St Kilda.

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