This is so much more than a book about Anorexia. I’m incredibly impressed that this was a first novel, for it showed a stylistic maturity and complexity I might not have expected if I had know when I started it, that it was a first novel.
I liked the short chapter format and that it’s written from the point of view of Donnie, rather than his older sister Karen’s (the girl with Anorexia). It was unusual in that it focused more upon how Anorexia can affect the the other members of the family (and friends). I feel that this is an interesting writing approach to make and certainly made it so that there will be an even wider audience that can possibly relate to Donnie than there might have been if it had been from Karen’s point of view (as it is in Monkey Taming – Judith Fathallah, Massive – Julia Bell etc). Not that that detracts from the empathy towards Karen or my ability to respond to her and her choices, but it makes it simpler to directly relate to a character because you are one step further away from an issue, in my case, I have never experienced, so for me it was more… realistic to read about a step removed, via Donnie.
I quite liked the authors choice to start the novel with Karen’s final plight, to then jump back in time to cover the year leading up to the events on the first handful of pages, before jumping back to the present and showing the aftermath of the beginning, as it were.
I found some of it hard reading, I mean only in a thematic/emotional sense as opposed to stylistically etc. For example; Donnie’s downward spiral of self confidence towards invisibility and his increasing desperation/frustration with his sister, as well as Karen’s self destructive cycle, that is evident very early on where it is leading. However, it was certainly a page turner and I would very much recommend it and re-read it.