purgeJanie is at Golden Slopes psychiatric hospital in the eating disorder ward where it is the Barfers against the Starvers.  Janie fits into the Barfer category.  She started bingeing and purging once a day, but it wasn’t long until she was running to the bathroom to throw up after every meal.

PURGE is told through Janie’s journal entries.  The journal was given to her to use as part of her therapy.  It is a private place for her to put her most secret thoughts.  While others in the therapy group don’t think this is a particularly valuable thing to do, Janie finds great comfort in her journal and writes in it almost everyday.  It is here that we follow Janie through her recovery.

Something I didn’t expect in a serious book about a girl with an eating disorder was the amount of humor that filled the pages.  Janie has a dry and witty personality that just leaps off the page.  Her descriptions of the tensions between the Barfers and the Starvers is great.  Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the beginning of the book:

“We Bulimia Babes are always the first to the table, because we have this strange relationship with food.  We want to eat it badly, but afterward we want to puke it up equally as badly.

The anorexics are another story.  They’ll do anything to avoid eating, including hiding out at mealtimes, because they have a hate-hate relationship with food.  It ends up causing plenty of friction between the bulimics and the anorexics, because we’ll be sitting at the table ravenous, even for the gross Golden Slopes food, but we’re not allowed to start until every one of the eating disorder patients is present and whichever nurse is head of the Eating Police for that meal tells us we can begin.  It ends up being like a gang war, except instead of the Sharks and the Jets or the Bloods and the Crips, it’s the Barfers and the Starvers.” p.6

The passage goes on for a couple more pages describing the scene including dialogue from the other patients.  Don’t get me wrong though.  This is a serious look at dangerous topic.  The reader gets to see what it is like for a bulimic by reading Janie’s intimate thoughts.  Following Janie’s progress and witnessing when she comes to an understanding about her issues with food is a relief and leaves the reader with a feeling of hope for others suffering from a similar problem.

PURGE by Sarah Darer Littman comes out April 2009.

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