From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—After the death of her former best friend Cassie, 18-year-old Lia slowly spirals toward her own death, drowning in guilt while starving, cutting, and running on a treadmill in the middle of the night in this emotional novel (Viking, 2009) by Laurie Halse Anderson, winner of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award. Her father is in denial and her mother is distant; her stepmother and little sister look on helplessly. Lyrically visual, this starkly truthful and chilling first-person tale is narrated convincingly by Jeannie Stith, who perfectly mimics the sarcasm and angst of a teen girl's struggle with anorexia. An interview with the author concludes the audiobook. Recommended for Anderson's fans and those who enjoy books by Sonya Sones and Ellen Hokins.—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
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*Starred Review* Problem-novel fodder becomes a devastating portrait of the extremes of self-deception in this brutal and poetic deconstruction of how one girl stealthily vanishes into the depths of anorexia. Lia has been down this road before: her competitive relationship with her best friend, Cassie, once landed them both in the hospital, but now not even Cassie’s death can eradicate Lia’s disgust of the “fat cows” who scrutinize her body all day long. Her father (no, “Professor Overbrook”) and her mother (no, “Dr. Marrigan”) are frighteningly easy to dupe—tinkering and sabotage inflate her scale readings as her weight secretly plunges: 101.30, 97.00, 89.00. Anderson illuminates a dark but utterly realistic world where every piece of food is just a caloric number, inner voices scream “NO!” with each swallow, and self-worth is too easily gauged: “I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.” Struck-through sentences, incessant repetition, and even blank pages make Lia’s inner turmoil tactile, and gruesome details of her decomposition will test sensitive readers. But this is necessary reading for anyone caught in a feedback loop of weight loss as well as any parent unfamiliar with the scripts teens recite so easily to escape from such deadly situations. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus
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