From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—The intensity of emotion and vivid language here are more reminiscent of Anderson's Speak
(Farrar, 1999) than any of her other works. Lia and Cassie had been best friends since elementary school, and each developed her own style of eating disorder that leads to disaster. Now 18, they are no longer friends. Despite their estrangement, Cassie calls Lia 33 times on the night of her death, and Lia never answers. As events play out, Lia's guilt, her need to be thin, and her fight for acceptance unravel in an almost poetic stream of consciousness in this startlingly crisp and pitch-perfect first-person narrative. The text is rich with words still legible but crossed out, the judicious use of italics, and tiny font-size refrains reflecting her distorted internal logic. All of the usual answers of specialized treatment centers, therapy, and monitoring of weight and food fail to prevail while Lia's cleverness holds sway. What happens to her in the end is much less the point than traveling with her on her agonizing journey of inexplicable pain and her attempt to make some sense of her life.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library
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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