Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Food Issues

In Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, Lia's best friend has died because of complications of bulimia and anorexia. Lia struggles with anorexia herself, and in the wake of the death is plunged into another bout of losing weight. She can't control her stepmother, her distant and driven mother, or the students at school who make fun of her, but she can control what she eats, and she feels powerful when she doesn't. Obviously, this will not end well until Lia stops her self-destructive behaviour, which includes cutting. This was a very lyrical account of a serious eating disorder; well done; probably will win prizes. The girls who crave problem novels will like it as well. It was a bit too literary for me. The poetic language seemed out of sorts with the topic, somehow.


Deborah Lytton's Jane in Bloom addressed another side of eating disorders-- how they affect the rest of the family. Jane's admired older sister Lizzie struggles with anorexia and dies suddenly of laxative and diuretic abuse. This completely unhinges Jane's mother, who spends the summer with her parents, and leaves Jane to try to recover from the death with the help of her father, a new puppy, and an older babysitter. There is also a sweet friendship/romance witha boy whose parents have been killed in a car accident. Like Vrettos' Skin, this addresses the children who are affected by eating disorders and pushed aside by their families. Nicely done.
Probably my favorite, though, was Erin Dionne's Models Don't Eat Cookies. Certainly, many girls suffer with anorexia, but FAR more suffer from being overweight. That's the case for Celeste, whose aunt has nominated her for a HuskyPeach spokesmodel fashion contest. Since Celeste gets endless grief about her weight from a popular bully at school (to whom she almost loses her best friend-- very true to life!), she does not want to be a part of that! In order to be ineligible, she tries to lose weight. I liked how healthy choices were discussed, although readers could probably use even more factual information about food choices and exercise. This was certainly not literary, and could have been a bit better written, but the message, characters and general plot were very good. My 5th grader, who adored The Melting of Maggie Bean, will like this one.

5 comments:

Readingjunky said...

These all sound terrific. I'm waiting for my copy of WINTERGIRLS to arrive from B & N. It's on my springbreak reading schedule.

Lenore said...

I liked Models a lot - very charming. Celeste was just such a fun character.

Bookworm said...

Loved Models--cute, light, funny! Older readers should check out Mary Hogan's "Pretty Face" (an obese girl goes to Italy and falls in love and realizes food isn't evil). It was cute, sincere, and funny!

Abby said...

I finally got my hands on Wintergirls and read half of it last night. For me, the poetic language is perfect because it's something that is sharply crafted, just like Lia's wasting body...

Mrs. F-B's Books Blog said...

I just started Wintergirls last night. I want to love it, but so far it's been a little choppy for me. I am worried about someone I care about right now who I think has an eating disorder, so I'm wondering if it's just hitting a little too close to home for me...thanks, as always, for the great recommendations. Thanks also for the comment on one of the 6th grade entries. That was exciting for that kiddo :)

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