A fictional look at how seemingly minor childhood and teenage trauma can trigger anorexia and similar disorders.
It's the story of Punjabi-Canadian Lila's descent into and recovery from anorexia as told by her adult self; the "Faerie" of the title is the name Lila gives to her budding anorexia, envisioning within a winged self who will only be free if allowed to be divested of flesh. Though Lila’s ethnic identity is sometimes irrelevant, at others, as when Lila is experiencing the cognitive dissonance of living in one culture at school and another at home, it’s clear that the book adds value to the literature on the topic. Unfortunately, Marjara is not always able to convey how seemingly minor incidents—such as Lila’s crush on a teacher who later turns out to have molested a classmate—can lead to anorexia. The fact that the story is being told by an adult Lila looking back leads to a surfeit of telling instead of showing, blunting its impact and hindering readers’ abilities to connect with the character. The author's flights of achingly poetic description are the book’s other saving grace: her father’s camera “glistened against the dusty gold light of late evening, and the smooth glassy lens winked as if to welcome me into a substitute world.”
Though not completely satisfying, this important account provides a mirror where as yet there is none. (Fiction. 12-18)