Anonymous. Letting Ana Go.
June 4th 2013 by Simon Pulse
When her cross country coach makes her keep a food diary to make sure that she and the other girls on the team keep up their calorie counts and DON'T descend into an eating disorder, our unnamed character starts to lose weight. Her best friend, Jill, is a ballerina on a dangerously restrictive diet, and her mother has gained weight and is given a hard time about it by her father. When her father ends up leaving her mother for another woman, and she starts to run faster times after losing about ten pounds, she starts to work with her friend on ridiculously low calorie amounts. This brings her the attention of a boy she likes, and she's determined to lose weight to get into a size two dress, even though she is 5'7". Vanessa, another girl on the team, is worried about her, but she attributes that to jealously. After collapsing at a meet, she has to bring her weight up, her mother starts working days in order to be with her, and her friends watch her more closely, but she is now struggling with anorexia and finds it hard to break the cycle. Her friend Jill is hospitalized, as is she, and she does gain weight for a while, but the book has a very sad ending.
Strengths: My readers are already craving a lot of problem novels-- this doesn't usually occur until deep into February! This was a good read, along the lines of The Best Little Girl in the World. There is some kissing and touching, but nothing too bad.
Weaknesses: I was bothered that this is an "anonymous" diary, when you know it was written by an adult somewhere. It's just too specific and message heavy to have been a real diary. I also wish there had been some information at the back of the book about eating disorder support.
I struggle with giving girls books about eating disorders, but in 17 years of teaching, I have only had two girls who had to go into treatment. In the one case, the girl came to my attention BECAUSE she was reading so many books about the topic, and she is doing better now. This book certainly didn't make an eating disorder look in any way attractive, although the fact that the father left the mother in part because of her weight (or at least that was her daughter's perception) was a bit alarming.) At any rate, a good spring board for discussion.