Shahan tackles eating disorders in a fast-paced, contemporary coming-of-age novel.
Jack (5 feet 6 inches and 103 pounds, aka “Bones”) is the new kid on the Eating Disorders Unit block; his compulsive-overeater roommate, “Lard” Kowlesky, is back for another round of treatment and is full of helpful advice about where to hide out and hang out. Jack is just settling in when lovely but deathly thin ballerina Alice arrives via wheelchair and draws him into her personal web of starvation secrecy. Full of tips and tricks of the eating-disorder trade, the story incorporates multiple issues and dramas: recreational drugs and smoking, emerging sexuality, bullying, sexual abuse—and even a little mystery, as Jack discovers hidden scraps of a story left behind by a previous, anonymous EDU resident. The pace quickens as Alice manipulates all in her quest to lose more weight, a joy ride turns dark, and Jack’s life depends on the choices he makes. Adult characters are well-meaning but somewhat distant; the edgy banter may help readers refrain from questioning a residential rehab program where teens roam at night and have easy access to cars.
A quick read with a worthy message: We are all recovering from something, and the right companions can help you heal. The wrong ones could kill you. (Fiction. 13-17)