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SOLITAIRE by Aimee Liu



Pub Date: June 27th, 1979
ISBN: 0595002994
Publisher: Harper & Row

Anorexia nervosa is the not-eating syndrome that utterly absorbed Aimee Liu's adolescence, but she didn't label it then--some ten years ago--and she doesn't label it now. Disallowing retrospective comment, clinical or otherwise, Liu relives the experience in the voice of the girl going through it: Aimee was a suburban Connecticut honor student and part-time New York model, the child of unusually cosmopolitan people who did everything right. The set-up was classic. Simulating a journal, the narrative supplies the raw materials of the conflicts that took shape as an obsession with weight soon after puberty threw Aimee into a tailspin: its sexual implications were particularly unwelcome because she'd been raped at the age of seven by two older boys with her own lonely, ignorant collusion. She hated her body and, by guilty extension, the rest of herself; on the outermost edges of the in-crowd at school, she was having a bad time socially too. Aimee, 5'6"", weighed 130 when she worked her way into the dieting routine whose endless possibilities would completely, mercifully, occupy her life--counting calories, preparing special food (or sabotaging family meals), eating very slowly, exercising, scale-watching, mirror-gazing, rib-fondling, sometimes ""binge-ing"" (then vomiting), and later competing with the several schoolmates who, bewilderingly, followed her example. Liu reproduces the whole business with impressive fidelity, but she resists the connections and observations that might help troubled parents or suggestible YAs for whom the subject has obvious appeal. This, contrariwise, could almost be a how-to book. Better the case-history approach of Hilde Bruch's Golden Cage (1978).