Friday, March 07, 2014

Guy Friday- Skin and Bones

This is not one for the middle school crowd, but it is a good addition to an underserved market-- problem books for teen boys. If books about eating disorders are popular at your library, definitely take a look at this one. Whitman is getting into some interesting Young Adult ground lately!

18332666Shahan, Sherry. Skin and Bones
March 1st 2014 by Albert Whitman & Company
E ARC from

Jack ends up in residential treatment over the summer for his anorexia. At 5'11" and barely 100 pounds, he still wants to keep his weight down, having been traumatized by a sales lady who thought husky jeans would fit him. He is resistant to treatment, and keeps trying to eat as little as possible and exercise as much as he can. His roommate, Lard, is a compulsive over eater but has lost some weight and is back for the summer to do a brush-up on his coping skills, which included helping out in the kitchen and nurturing his passion for healthy foods. Jack (nicknamed "Bones" by Lard) meets Alice, a ballerina with severe anorexic problems, and starts to hang out with her at night, encouraging her with her ballet. While he gains a little weight, Jack still isn't over the issues that have caused him to start restricting his diet so severely. When Alice is hospitalized after Jack substitutes menus for her, he feels badly, but it takes Alice's running away and eventual collapse into a coma before he starts to realize that he can't let the disease control his life.
Strengths: This is one of the best depictions of eating disorder that I've read, and the fact that it addresses a male with an eating disorder is great. Like all books on this topic, it clearly points out that these situations rarely end well. I also liked that there were teens who ate too little and who ate too much in the same program.
Weaknesses: This has multiple uses of the f-bomb, marijuana smoking, and way too much talk about sex (and some action) to be appropriate for middle school. This is frequently the case with topics of eating disorders, and is really too bad, since it is a topic that interests middle school students, usually starting in February of 7th grade, when all of the girls want to read depressing books. For boys, this starts about a year later!

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