Her life in upheaval, Ivy finds solace in controlling her caloric intake.
Ivy’s once-close family, all white, is coming apart. Her dad has a girlfriend, and her brother has also moved out. Now it’s just Ivy and her mother at home. But her mother is progressively disappearing into depression. So when her sophomore year starts, Ivy can’t wait to see her white best friend, Anna, who has just returned from Europe. But now Anna has a new best friend and a new beer pong pastime. Ivy is a “Smart Girl.” She adores math and trusts numbers for their constancy. She enters an arithmetic competition, but the weight of grief and loneliness sends her careening into obsessiveness. Ivy begins using numbers to control her life, viewing her growing eating disorder as an equation: “My body / is a function. / And I know / that the lower my x is / the less I put inside of me / the better / my output / will be.” The distinct quality of this topical novel is Ivy’s voice and composition. Written in evocative verse, with notes of wonder and despair, the cadence flows across and down the pages with grace: “I never knew silence / could take up a whole room: / sitting on all the chairs, / climbing up the stairway, / thick in the air like fog.”
Lifted beyond the confines of the problem novel with its lyricism and resonance. (Verse/fiction. 12-16)