A young woman struggles with anorexia in this debut.
High school junior Elizabeth has dropped to a dangerous 90 pounds before being sent to Wallingfield Psychiatric Facility by her worried parents. She’s unsure what to expect and is somewhat ambivalent about her treatment—she doesn’t want to get better if it means that she has to gain weight. However, as this engrossing and heartfelt novel progresses, Elizabeth finds that the enforced, monitored meals and various therapy groups at Wallingfield are at once sources of shame, frustration, and hope. Vivid descriptions of the panic and visceral disgust she experiences at the prospect of eating juxtapose well with the account of her progress as she begins to confront just how profound the effect her mother’s disordered relationship with food and body image has had on her. That some of this account is noticeably expository finds compensation in Elizabeth’s well-developed character. Elizabeth develops supportive friendships with several girls at the center, and a romantic subplot with a boy she knows from school adds an appealing layer to the first-person, confessional narrative. The ethnicities of the main characters are not specified, though mention is made of a friend of Elizabeth’s standing out as the only Indian student at school, suggesting that the community is predominantly white.
Readers will root for the novel’s likable main character and gain some understanding of the complexity of her illness at the same time. (Fiction. 14-18)