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Empty Hardcover – January 1, 2013
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Seventeen-year-old Dell is overweight, and she eats to deal with a series of letdowns, beginning when her father left the family. No one understands the pain she harbors, not even her best friend. She hides behind her weight and self-deprecating jokes. Her classmates even get her to participate in sumo poses and to moo for them on demand. The bullying turns vicious at a party; she drinks too much and is raped by one of the bullies, on whom she happens to have had a crush. She has no one to turn to, and rumors start that she attacked him. Dell's life is starting to get even more hellish and she is running on empty. Dell is a well-drawn character, and her loneliness and hurt are palpable. Teens will be sucked into her downward spiral and will start to wonder if her situation is ever going to get better. Empty will hit home hard with teens who have been or are being tormented and should shed some light on how painful and destructive bullying is to its victims.-Shannon Seglin, formerly at Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Dell’s weight has ballooned since her father abandoned the family. Now, as she tops the scales at 286 pounds, food has become her antidote to the emptiness that sucks at her. To add to Dell’s grief, her devastated mother is addicted to pills, and Dell’s longtime best friend, Cara, longs for acceptance into the thin, beautiful, popular crowd, who target Dell with increasingly vicious abuse. Feeling invisible and alone, Dell makes a choice that will end the abuse forever. Like Walton’s debut novel, Cracked (2012), this novel wades fearlessly into the desperate inner lives of abused teens. Although the alienation experienced by overweight teenagers has been the topic of many young adult novels—K. L. Going’s Fat Kid Rules the World (2003), Catherine Ryan Hyde’s Diary of a Witness (2009), and Erin Jade Lange’s Butter (2012), among many others—Walker zeros in on every fluctuation of Dell’s emotional ride. Readers will feel Dell’s pain acutely in this emotionally wrenching novel, which deals with serious issues such as rape, drug use, and suicide. Grades 9-12. --Diane Colson
Top customer reviews
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Dell's life couldn't be much worse. She rarely sees her father since he took off with his girlfriend and her mother is popping pills, working 2 jobs and constantly criticizing. She's packed on 70 pounds since last year, which has gotten her kicked off the softball team. Her social climbing best friends is obsessed with breaking into the popular group, the same group that bullies and teases Dell mercilessly. She's depressed and lethargic. Things are about to get even worse.
EMPTY is a heavy read, not due to the very readable prose, not because of the topic, which is incredibly heavy. Dell's first person POV illustrated her profound depression. I could almost feel her despair. Despite Dell's despair, EMPTY is a fairly quick read. I enjoy Walton's writing style and will look for her again. Some of the minor characters did seem stereotypical and a bit over the top. Mean girls and bullies exist, but not within every student in a school. Dell's parents were completely narcissistic, almost too awful to be believable. Parents like hers do exist, I just felt as if Walton tried to make everyone in Dell's life as awful as she could, which wasn't necessary to tell the story. Walton ended the book in a creative and brave way.
Put this one on your to-read list.
Things get worse when Brandon, the boy Dell has been pining for, does something unexpected. Dell is thrown into a whirlpool of gossip and bullying. She’s already experienced bullying, deflecting it with self-deprecating humor, but with Brandon and the mean girls against her circumstances get out of control.
I read this in two sittings. It’s a riveting tale told in first person, yet it's extremely sad. The author’s note at the end makes sense: there are teenagers like Dell out there who are going through events and emotions we may or may not understand. Dell has good qualities that are overshadowed by the many issues she’s facing. Yes, one bad thing after another does happen, but the how’s and why’s make complete sense.
Dell is overweight and is so horribly bullied by peers that she feels like there is no way out. I cried until no more tears came, reached through the pages of this book and held Dell close--I so wanted to keep her safe and make her feel loved.
This book should be mandatory reading material for high school students. Enough said.