Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Book Review: Hunger By Jackie Morse Kessler

Author's Website:

Pros: good message that doesn't come off as preachy, realistic look at anorexia

Cons: the books length meant the story was less developed and detailed than it could have been

Lisabeth Lewis is having a tough time. Whenever her mother's around, which isn't often, she's super critical, her boyfriend's too good for her, and her (now former) best friend accused her of being anorexic. As if. She's too fat to be anorexic!

To top it off, she's been chosen by Death to become Famine, Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Hunger is a book with a message. That message is that eating disorders are bad, and those with them don't see the problem with what they're doing or that they need help. Often in books like this the message overshadows the story, becoming preachy. That doesn't happen here. While the novel is short (less than 200 pages), the Famine storyline develops naturally, as does the collapse of Lisa's life due to her eating disorder. And while becoming Famine helps her recognize that she has a problem, it doesn't solve it. Lisa must take steps to solve her anorexia, above and beyond developing a backbone to stand up to the 'thin voice' in her head.

The only cons are that I'd have liked more story development to flesh out her relationships more, and that Death reminded me of Terry Pratchett's anthropomorphized personification from the Discworld series. They both have bizarre senses of humour, but Kessler's isn't the skeletal spectre Pratchett uses.

This is a good book for teens, whether they have an eating disorder or not. Lisa's POV is stark and realistic. I liked how Lisa's problem bloomed from over exercising and obsessively watching what she ate to paranoia and suicidal thoughts. Teens need to learn that some secrets aren't meant to be kept. This book could help identify those who have problems - to themselves or their friends.

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association).

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