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Nothing Paperback – August 8, 2008

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Flux; 1 edition (August 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073871304X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738713045
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,279,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—This short novel examines the life of a boy with bulimia. Parker Rabinowitz, 17, is good-looking, smart, and rich; he's bound to get into Princeton. He is expected to maintain perfect grades, participate in multiple extracurricular activities and service projects, and, in other words, be the perfect son. His sister, Danielle, is jealous of the attention he gets, but she is the first to notice that something is terribly wrong. Parker is binging uncontrollably, and then forcing himself to vomit. What starts out as an occasional stress release becomes an obsession controlling his life. His downward spiral climaxes when he convulses in his bathroom. He is rushed to the hospital, and after his "recovery" begins therapy. The narrative alternates between Parker and Danielle. Although the ending is a little too neat, the novel does a good job of letting readers inside the head of someone who is suffering from an eating disorder. Compelling reading.—Robin Henry, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"How many boys and men suffer from bulimia? NOTHING by Robin Friedman, the fictional story of a teenager named Parker, handles the subject of male eating disorders sensitively and realistically." -- Guys Lit Wire

"Throughout NOTHING, Friedman treats the subject matter gently and compassionately. This novel is well-researched and will appeal to both genders, thanks largely to the dual narrative." -- Little Willow at Slayground

"What I learned from this book is that you have to follow your heart. Parker didn't." -- Rachel's Reviews for Kids, New Jersey Jewish News

"[T]his complex novel shares the story of Parker Rabinowitz through a series of present-tense narratives. It's an extremely personal account and the use of free verse heightens the emotion and power that bulimia has over one's mind. In simple terms it's touching, tear-jerking and a quick read." -- Sydney Star Observer

A quiet, lyric look at the price of perfection. Parker Rabinowitz "doesn't look Jewish" and lives his life with two goals: getting into Princeton and making his father happy... Danielle's free-verse poems provide a counterpoint to Parker's first-person narration of his downward spiral of binging and purging and lying... Parker's negative body image and need for control will be familiar to teen readers, but the callous dismissal of his few attempts to discuss his worries says worlds about social expectations for teen boys... A fast, well-written read... Moving. -- Kirkus Reviews

A well-told story that will resonate with teen readers in today's overwhelming and fast-paced society. -- YA Books Central

I know teens who read about eating disorders will often read every eating disorder book they can get their hands on, and this is definitely one to give them. -- Librarilly Blonde

NOTHING grabs you from page one, draws you into the lives of these characters, and does not let go, culminating in a finale that is as satisfying as it is hopeful. It is a beautiful book. -- TeensReadToo: Hall of Fame and Gold Star Award for Excellence

Nothing shows how Friedman has the ability to easily crossover into another, more serious topic without losing her voice - particularly her ability to peer into the human soul and discover what's uniquely compelling about each individual... "It was also important to me to present bulimia in all its complexity," Friedman said. "My research showed eating disorders aren't about food, but about control. I needed to create a sadly familiar world of modern teenage pressures, in which competitiveness, stress, the need for approval from others, and the pursuit of unattainable perfection can wreak total, tragic havoc on a seventeen-year-old's body and soul, in ways that last a lifetime..." It took the right author to present this in such an engrossing, balanced, effective and even inspirational way. Perhaps Robin Friedman, and no one else, was just the right fit. -- The Huffington Post

This poignant character study features a teen trying to hide his eating disorder while maintaining the façade that sometimes comes along with being one of the most popular guys in school. Seventeen-year-old Parker Rabinowitz is seen as the guy who has it all: he is very handsome, and his intelligence and hard work have brought him close to his goal of getting into an Ivy League college. But Parker is paying a terrible price for all of his success; he is severely bulimic. He is doing a good job of covering it up... Parker's younger sister, Danielle, has problems of her own... But when Danielle finally does notice what Parker is going through, will she be able to help him find a way out? -- The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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At times, I found this book to be very sad, but only in the most realistic and honest kind of way.
reader of books
This device shows the passage of time within the story, but also effectively elevates a sense of suspense.
Overall I thought the characters were likable and I would recommend this book to anyone, male or female.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on July 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
On the outside, Parker seems to have everything going for him: he's wealthy, he's attractive, he's a track star, he's a journalist, he's active in his community, and he's a good student. However, Parker doesn't like everything that he's doing, and he doesn't like how he looks on the outside. He keeps his emotions locked up inside, where no one can see them. His father wants him to become "a nice Jewish doctor," but that's not Parker's dream. Although his parents have made him see a college consultant regularly since he was a freshman, he's still not sure what he wants to do after high school. When the pressure (from his overbearing father, from his coaches, from his friends, from himself) gets to be too much, he turns to food. After going on shopping sprees at the grocery store, he eats until he's uncomfortably full, then throws up.

Binging and purging takes a toll on both his body and his mind. He feels tired all of the time. He loses weight. He loses muscle. He loses strength. He stops hanging out with his friends. He argues with the girl he likes.

Danielle wishes she got a fraction of the attention Parker gets from their family and classmates. At first, she does not realize that that very attention has pushed Parker to hurt himself. Then, though Parker tries his best to hide what he's doing, Danielle begins to suspect something is wrong. She wonders if she should speak up, then wonders who will listen to her. As other matters at home complicate things, Danielle's narrative offers additional insight into Parker's character as well as their family life.

Nothing by Robin Friedman is written in first-person narrative, alternating between Parker's point of view and Danielle's point of view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Penny on November 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I bought this book I was so looking forward to reading about an eating disorder from the point of view of a male sufferer. "Nothing" will bring to readers' attention that guys can have bulimia, but that their disease often remains undiagnosed because of their gender. They're too embarrassed to seek help, and the reason behind their changing behavior and health wouldn't even occur to most people. I, too, was unable to put down this book because the boy's accelerating academic pressure was kind of hypnotizing. He took on so much! But the look into Parker and Danielle's darkest thoughts wasn't realistic enough for me. I don't mean that I was looking for profanity or gross purging imagery or anything like that, just a whole lot more resentment on Danielle's part and more disgust and shame coming from Parker. This book reminded me of "Cut" by Patricia McCormick, in that niether author seemed to have any personal experience with self-desctructive diseases or the ability to even sound convincing about them. They managed to produce simple, "compassionate" novels that were sanitary enough for any teen reader and his or her mom. Plenty of young-adult books have made a real impact on me, and I'll wait for a better one about the grim reality of eating disorders in males.
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Format: Paperback
It is a rare occurrence for me to read a book all the way through in one sitting, yet that is exactly what happened with NOTHING. I could not put it down.

It is the story of a high school senior struggling with bulimia. What makes this story unique is that the bulimic student is a boy. As he struggles with his illness, his younger sister struggles with her own feelings of inadequacy. It's tough for her to be the kid sister of a shining star. Both Parker, age seventeen, and his sister, Danielle, age fourteen, narrate the story, which alternates between their voices. Parker writes in prose, while Danielle expresses herself through free verse. It sounds contrived, but it isn't. The result is a beautiful portrait of the very real pressures that teenagers face. It is a story that is human, touching, and real.

The alternating narrative provides not only perspective to Parker's situation that readers wouldn't see if he were the sole narrator, but it also deftly, carefully, almost imperceptibly shows the effects of Parker's illness on his family. This narrative device also helps provide a window into the causes of his bulimia. Lastly, the free verse in particular adds a sense of beauty and melancholy that helps the reader relate to these two souls in a way that brings them to life and depicts an authentic teenage experience.

Parker and Danielle's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rabinowitz, are good people. They love their kids. They want what is best for them. They try very hard to be good parents. And they fall into the trap that many parents fall into with their kids - they push too hard in the name of doing what's best. These characters are on the periphery of the story, but they are still real human beings.
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By Jewish Book World Magazine on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Robin Friedman's novel, Nothing, traces the 88 days before his collapse as well as its aftermath. The story, told in alternating chapters by Parker and his younger sister, Danielle, feels inevitable and at times, frustrating. As Parker binges and purges, no one notices. The disease takes over his life, and he gets no help. He withdraws from family and friends. Friedman does an excellent job of showing the insidious nature of eating disorders. Parker's interior monologue is filled with isolation, self loathing, and insecurity. Although everyone else sees him as highly successful, the reader learns the terrifying truth. Unfortunately, there are some missteps. Parker's father's diagnosis of male breast cancer is strange at best, and makes us question how much Friedman trusts the reader. She also shows the worst stereotypes of a Jewish family. The Rabinowitz family's blatantly superficial Jewish experience, constant black tie events and named parties infuse a cynical tone to the text. Also, Parker often refers to Julianne, his non-Jewish girlfriend, as a shiksa. This uncomfortable, outdated language may have been used for humor, but it leaves the reader with less empathy for Parker. The best part of this book is Danielle. Her honest narratives, written in effective delineated prose, are filled with love, fear, and envy. Her scant comments harness the vulnerability and fear we all have when dealing with this disease. It is through Danielle that the reader experiences the breakdown and salvation of this Jewish family. Nothing offers a compelling discussion, recommended for readers 14 and up. Reviewed by Sara Aronson
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More About the Author

I feel so privileged to be a writer. Writing has brought me great joy since I was five years old, and I will always feel profoundly grateful for the honor of sharing my love of words with others.

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