looks3-glasses

 

Viking – June 12, 2008

Meghan is obese. She is the largest person at Valley Regional High and her hulking size, oddly enough, allows her to blend into the background. Most people are too uncomfortable to make eye contact and most teachers are content to allow her to remain silent during class discussions. Meghan doesn’t have any friends, but she knows a lot about everyone at school.

Aimee is reed thin. Her list of foods that give her a “bad reaction” grows everyday. About the only things she allows herself to eat are Jell-o and carrot sticks. Her big, floppy hats and black, long skirts make her all but invisible in the school’s halls. Invisible to everyone except Meghan that is…

Meghan feels the need to connect with Aimee. She begins to follow Aimee in order to try and find an excuse to talk to her, but it isn’t until Aimee is betrayed and she and Meghan share a common enemy that they team up for a little payback.

LOOKS deals with many issues – eating disorders, friendship, bullying, and high school dynamics are the most evident. George’s unique writing style in the first and last chapters give the reader a voyeuristic feeling and, at times, the lyrical and figurative language tricks the reader into thinking they are reading and extended poem rather than a work of prose. While the author doesn’t wrap the story up in the traditional way of most young adult novels, it is definitely an accurate picture of the atmosphere in a typical high school.

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wintergirlsLia fights a war every day. 

A war with herself. 

A war with food. 

At 95 pounds she still feels fat.  When she looks in the mirror she sees the pockets of fat hanging on her body.  Everyone else is just blind.  Two stays in a treatment facility hasn’t cured her; it just forced her to develop techniques to survive in a world of food.  She picks the bruised apples at lunch so she has an excuse to cut some of it off, she sews quarters in the lining of her robe to add weight when she has to stand on the scale in front of her stepmother, and she cuts herself – just little cuts in order to let the pain leak out of her body.

When Lia learns that Cassie, her best friend, has been found dead in a motel room, maintaining any healthy habit is extremely difficult.  Not only does she have to listen to her own voice obsessing about every calorie of food she consumes; now she has to deal with Cassie making her ghostly appearances and cheering her on and encouraging her to get skinnier so Lia can join Cassie on the “other side.”

Lia must decide where she wants to be – in the world with the living or stuck in the frozen world where she has trapped herself.   

Laurie Halse Anderson has done it again.  With this being the tenth anniversary of the release of SPEAK, it is a wonderful time for WINTERGIRLS to debut.  It is an extremely powerful and honest look at the life of an anorexic girl.  You will be choked up and at a loss for words by the time you get to the final page.

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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5-glasses

 

 

Lia fights a war every day. 

A war with herself. 

A war with food. 

At 95 pounds she still feels fat.  When she looks in the mirror she sees the pockets of fat hanging on her body.  Everyone else is just blind.  Two stays in a treatment facility hasn’t cured her; it just forced her to develop techniques to survive in a world of food.  She picks the bruised apples at lunch so she has an excuse to cut some of it off, she sews quarters in the lining of her robe to add weight when she has to stand on the scale in front of her stepmother, and she cuts herself – just little cuts in order to let the pain leak out of her body.

When Lia learns that Cassie, her best friend, has been found dead in a motel room, maintaining any healthy habit is extremely difficult.  Not only does she have to listen to her own voice obsessing about every calorie of food she consumes; now she has to deal with Cassie making her ghostly appearances and cheering her on and encouraging her to get skinnier so Lia can join Cassie on the “other side.”

Lia must decide where she wants to be – in the world with the living or stuck in the frozen world where she has trapped herself.   

Laurie Halse Anderson has done it again.  With this being the tenth anniversary of the release of SPEAK, it is a wonderful time for WINTERGIRLS to debut.  It is an extremely powerful and honest look at the life of an anorexic girl.  You will be choked up and at a loss for words by the time you get to the final page.

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4-glasses

 

 

Janie 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.