Anyone familiar with the sensationalist pseudo-diary Go Ask Alice knows it won’t end well for an anonymous (fictitious) teen who chronicles her eating disorder.
The journal begins as a food diary assigned by the unnamed narrator’s running coach. When the narrator goes on vacation with her friend Jill, Jill’s dreamy brother, Jack, and Jill’s perfectly put-together mother, Susan, Jill convinces her to restrict her eating. As in Alice, the cautionary tale thrills readers with lurid details of the unnamed diarist’s spiral into danger. The diarist’s weight, food intake and exercise regimen are recorded in detail, with frequent mentions of dress sizes and tips such as the “Thin Commandments.” Every pressure the narrator experiences seems to be food-related, sometimes to an absurdly exaggerated degree (“Jack couldn’t take his eyes off you [last night],” Susan warns the narrator after catching her with a doughnut hole. “I just wouldn’t want you to start forming bad habits that would get in the way of that”). Readers who struggle with body image or with their own eating will surely have their own anxieties provoked by the obsessive details and the narrator’s unresolved disgust with her own and others’ bodies.
A disturbing tale that feels meant to titillate rather than caution. (Fiction. 12-18)