From the blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.
Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.
Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn’t plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she, too, will end her life.
There isn’t much I can say about the plot that isn’t covered in the blurb, without giving away too many spoilers.
Stevie and her brother Josh were really close, until her friend Eden comes between them. When her brother dies, Stevie is consumed with guilt, and plans to die from starvation on the anniversary of his death.
The problem with this plan (apart from the obvious) is that contrary to many of the reviews I’ve read, this book is not about Anorexia – which makes me question whether some of these people have actually read the book, or just skimmed the beginning. Stevie would love you to think she has Anorexia, because she wants the world to see her as tortured, thin and would like to slip away into death as her organs slowly shut down. She definitely has some weird death wish and glamourises Anorexia to herself, but actually suffers from bulimia. Stevie denies herself food, rigorously plans what she can eat in order to keep losing weight, but then caves and binges on rubbish, before purging.
When she enters treatment she is appalled that she is only 28lbs underweight and that the professionals have diagnosed bulimia. Stevie sees bulimia as failure. She wants to be anorexic. It is seriously messed up.
Stevie has to room with another bulimic Ashley, and at first is disgusted with her and that she is put into the same ED category. Stevie starts to make friends with her roommate, and thinks that maybe she does want to live after all.
“I’m supposed to use this time to retrain my brain, my way of thinking, the way I perceive myself and the world around me. If I have to, if all of us have to, we’re supposed to go back to our childhoods. To discover how we learned to hate ourselves with such intensity. We’re not born hating”
I really loved this novel, which explores relationships, family, sexuality, and grief as well as eating disorders. The treatment facility was very realistic and apparently based on the authors own experiences.
Let me know if you plan on reading this book in the comments below.