MASSIVE by Julia Bell


Age Range: 14 & up
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A sad, sharp tale of food and pain. “If I was as big as her I’d kill myself,” says Carmen’s mum on page one, pointing at a picture of Marilyn Monroe. Mum’s fanatical obsession with thinness is dangerous for both herself and Carmen. She calls Carmen names and forbids her to eat, putting both of them on inane diets while discussing nothing but food. Dad gives Carmen Big Macs and fry-ups, but Mum soon takes Carmen away to Birmingham. Carmen is often silent; Bell skillfully writes the food issues blatantly but leaves the emotions subtle, with Carmen’s pain shown rather than told. Mum’s estranged sister lives in Birmingham and warms Carmen up with nail polish and affection in her nail salon—“like a cave full of treasure,” while Mum’s old friend Billy gives bumbling support. Neither can outweigh Mum’s influence, however, and Carmen has a hard path through bulimia, cutting and bullying (from both sides) to somehow survive. Grim, sorrowful, real. (resources) (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-4169-0207-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2005


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