Sunday, February 17, 2019

Good Enough

37598648Petro-Roy, Jen. Good Enough
February 19th 2019 by Feiwel and Friends
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Riley has been suffering with anorexia ever since an incident in gym class where other students found out her BMI from a teacher, and took to calling her "rancid Riled" and "roly-poly Riley". She started to limit her food and also started to run excessively, which she also hoped would make her faster for track. When her parents and doctor became concerned and she was not able to reverse the downward spiral of her weight, her parents put her in a residential care program. There, she meets other girls who are also dealing with eating disorders. The facility is very strict-- no exercise, a strict diet regimen, no electronics, and a lot of counseling sessions.One girl, Ali, is especially defiant, doing crunches in her bed when the staff can't hear. Riley is torn-- she wants to stay thin, but she wants to go home. The dynamics with her family are not good, but fairly standard-- her sister is "perfect", her mother is busy and controlling, and her father hasn't connected with her since she became a tween. We see a good cross section of behaviors and reactions from the other residents, and Riley slowly works through her problems, although the path is not a linear one. She does manage to go home at the end of the book, and has to learn to apply what she has learned in treatment to her daily life.
Strengths: This is an #ownvoices book, and Ms. Petro-Roy has clearly drawn on her personal experiences to add an extra level of detail and pathos to this story. Riley's thoughts about her weight and her reactions to her parents, the other residents, and her treatment are all thorough and realistic. Add this to the canon of eating disorder books that includes Anderson's Winter Girls, Carlson's Faded Denim, Dee's Everything I Know About You, Levenkron's The Best Little Girl in the World, Lytton's Jane in Bloom, Porter's A Dance of Sisters, and Price's Zoe Letting Go.
Weaknesses: While the details about struggling with an eating disorder are superb, the book would have moved along more quickly if there had been a more well-defined plot other than Riley's struggle with her disorder.
What I really think: I will purchase, and it will circulate because books about eating disorders are always popular. The cover is not attractive at all, though, and I'll have to recommend it in order to get students to pick it up.

Petro-Roy, Jen. You Are Enough
February 19th 2019 by Feiwel and Friends
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

This nonfiction self-help book is an excellent companion to Good Enough.  Again, it is an #ownvoices book, and Petro-Roy draws on her own experiences with an eating disorder to address a number of concerns that people in recovery might have. She is very good about being inclusive about the types of people who might need this information; even though most novels about anorexia depict middle class, white, cis-gendered characters, the reality is that many different people suffer from eating disorders, and this book is sensitive to that. It is also body positive in a very current way.

Since it is a self-help book, it is definitely geared to people who are struggling with eating disorders. There are interviews with fellow suffers and mental health professionals, tons of helpful information, and exercises readers can do to help with the recovery process. I can see this being extremely beneficial to someone working through an eating disorder.

I'm debating purchase, however. Over the years, I have had a large variety of novels concerning eating disorders, and those have circulated well. There is something about reading about the problems of other people that is tremendously soothing to middle school students. It makes them feel that their owe problems are not so horrible. I have also had nonfiction books about problems such as anorexia and cutting, but those have rarely circulated. I think this would be better for a high school library, not because of anything with the content, but because high school students might find this useful in understanding the struggles of others-- helping friends or themselves. I think my middle school students would not make it through the detailed descriptions unless they had an eating disorder, and there have been mercifully few of my students who have had this experience.

I will definitely recommend this book if the need arises, but don't know that I will purchase for the library. I will definitely recommend that my public library purchase this title.

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