Katie struggles with food as a child, not wanting to eat what her parents gave her and finding interesting ways to hide what she didn’t want to eat. She gives up junk food for lent one year and finds that after her diet change, junk food doesn’t sit well anymore. She starts regulating her food intake and counting calories. She also does lots of long walks to make up for even the slightest slip up. She continues on until she passes out from near-starvation. Her parents rich her to the hospital where she is diagnosed Ruth anorexia nervosa. Katie continues to struggle throughout high school and into college, not only with food, but her ability to control her body, her food, and her doubts and anxieties. Just when she thinks she’s found someone to help her heal, it turns out to be even more harmful when Katie realizes she is being sexually assaulted by the one person she had trusted with her recovery.
This book is an extremely powerful, honest look at the reality of anorexia, and later, sexual assault. Green’s illustrations and storytelling bear her whole soul for us to see and read on the page. As someone who has never suffered from anorexia but has definitely fallen prey to that pressure to be thin, I learned a lot about how the disease manifests and the power of those negative thoughts on a person. Anorexia is one of those (mostly) invisible illnesses that get written off - just eat normal, stop worrying about it, stop judging yourself - as if these simple phrases could stop the powerful mental-spiral that is playing out in someone’s mind. While this is a difficult and important story to have to help those understand the disease, it is even more important for those who might be feeling this way and may not know they are suffering from an illness. This is a powerful story to have in the library, but the recommending of it to students must be done carefully - be sure you know the emotional state and mental capacity of students before handing this to them.
There is lot a of nudity in this title as Katie evaluates her body constantly, and her mental images of herself are more often naked. There is also a sexual assault shown on the page, and repeated in Katie’s memories as Katie deals with her trauma.
Green’s illustrations are simple and clean, and I appreciated the representation of her anorexia and anxiety on the page as a black scribble of lines that changes size as Katie grapples with it. There is a slight color shift in the mostly grayscale illustrations that denote a shift in narrative focus or a time in Katie’s life.
Sara’s Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 11-12
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Nonfiction, Memoir, Mental Health
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