Wow! I wanted to stop reading many time because it was just so… disturbing. But like many fictional accounts or memoirs of mental illness, reading the book might be hard, but living through it is too hard for most to understand. Reading an account of mental illness might help you better understand someone that you know or will meet in the future. It can help you be a better teacher, mom, friend-since most won’t experience mental illness first hand, reading about it and realizing that anorexia, depression, and other mental illnesses are not something people can just “think” their way out of.
Knowing what a deceptive illness cutting and/or eating disorders can be in middle schools and high schools, I felt I needed to read this book. Being a huge fan of Laurie Halse Anderson also helped add this book to my must-read pile. The story of Lia and her best friend Cassie had me gripped in its clutches from the
second I read the inside cover:
“dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight streaming through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
I knew it was going to be a difficult book to read. What I hadn’t planned for was how compelling it was going to be to read Lia’s thoughts and feelings. About herself. About her best friend. About eating.
The painful descent into the iron grips of mental illness that holds its victims hostage in the arms of anorexia.
The online chat rooms where bulimic and anorexics share their best tips, gather support from others like them…
The inability to be “seen” by anyone…
The obsession with her number…
Her preparing food and baking for her little sister, yet never ingesting a bite…
Anderson is such a lyrical writer, so decriptive. This is just one of many lines that really stood out to me when I was reading,“The doc would be horrified. All his work, gone, in the endless loop of snot-gray crayon. He would have called my parents and there would be more consultations (meter running, thousands of insurance dollars ticking away), and he would have adjusted my med again, one pill…to make my self-of-steam larger, another to make my craziness small…” (p. 82)
If you are a fan as well or would like to read more about Laurie Halse Anderson, check out June’s issue of School Library Journal cover story. Add her to your Must-Read Pile for the summer.