Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers…the place to be when the need to read is so overwhelming, you can think of nothing else until you get your bookish fix. Hmm, sounds a bit like an obsession, albeit a healthier and less destructive one than our featured title deals with today…but I digress.
This week, we’ve looked In My Shopping Bag, given you a chance to win a way to explore
once again in a new and exciting adventure, and sampled my current read with a
tasty teaser. If you’ve been to the
site, that was merely a recap; if not, consider it an open invitation to check
out what’s been happening in my bookish world.
Today, we are carrying the literary torch forward with a blog tour courtesy of Random House Children’s Books. It features a Young Adult title that touches on a rather heavy subject that, sad as it may seem, is a reality to many teens AND adults to this day. Readers, be WARNED: This book DOES contain some adult situations, language, drug use, drinking, and self deprecating behavior. Does that mean I don’t recommend it to the intended audience? No; as I said, it’s something that many are dealing with even as we speak. I simply mean to apprise you of the content so you aren’t blindsided, leaving you free to interpret the message as you may and perhaps spark a few needed conversations along the way. Sound good? Let’s get started then, shall we? Today’s blog tour guest and book of choice is…
From the publisher…
She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that's why it doesn't hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn't hurt, because she's not real anymore.
Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.
Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.
From critically acclaimed writer Alyssa B. Sheinmel comes an unflinching and unparalleled portrayal of one girl’s withdrawal, until she is sinking like a stone into her own illness, her own loneliness—her own self.
Like I said, heavy subject; first things first though. Let’s talk about my experience.
When I first heard about this tour, I was merely curious, after all I myself hadn’t dealt with the issues at the heart of the story personally nor had anyone that I had known. (Sheltered world, I know.) Upon starting the book, I had a very difficult time connecting with the story. Often times in more contemporary novels, you find a character or characters that you can identify with on some level or events/interests that perhaps mirror something in your own life. Here? Nada. Sethie and her friends were not the type of kids I would have hung out with (too shy, too quiet…a lot of “too”s) and her world was shall we say, foreign to me. I mean of course I’ve had those “I’m-having-a-fat-day” moments, what girl honestly hasn’t? But the level she takes it to is just plain scary. HOWEVER…I continued reading (and no I’m not a glutton for punishment…the writing style used is quite drawing), even to the point of the author’s notes and letter to readers, and by book’s end, I had found my niche with this story.
You see, this one isn’t just about the story. It doesn’t take you to mythical lands or on adventures too grand to describe. It doesn’t provide you with a fluffy sweet romance tampered with the journey of winning someone’s heart forever. What this story does is spark conversations (two word phrase borrowed from the author that fits oh-so-well) such as the one we’re having and perhaps the one you have next with fellow readers or those in your life that may benefit from having an issue so raw and real presented front and center (maybe even yourself…there’s nothing wrong with internal dialogue).
Sethie doesn’t think much of herself, at least in the “I-am-worth-it” department. She settles for second best in almost all aspects of life except in her classes where she manages to stay on top somehow or another. Commendable yes, but short sighted seeing as how her overwhelming desire to be thin-as-thin-can-be will actually end up hurting her plans for the future, even perhaps putting an end to them altogether. Her self esteem issues? Developed over time as most do, not helped by the fact that her loser “boyfriend” was a user (in more ways than one) and that she allowed herself to make concessions for everything that happened in her life, compromising even her most basic needs; what she needed was parental guidance and a true friend. Both come are there but in very different packages…
Her mother, Rebecca, unknowingly contributes to her daughter’s condition; it’s not something intentional, we can’t always help how we feel. The problem is she doesn’t know how to deal with what she’s seeing and by the time she seeks help, it’s bordering on “too late”. (Note to parents: Kids/Teens may not always like you in their “business” but some things ARE your business and with good reason. Those “I-hate-you-and-never-want-to-speak-to-you-again” moments will pass…) The friend mentioned would be Janey; the same girl who inadvertently adds to the troubles Sethie is already working through. How so? Let’s just say she teaches her a new way of staying thin. In her own way, she’s merely trying to help Sethie…not that I’m condoning what she does…because she understands what she’s going through; she was there herself. The problem is she doesn’t really know how far her friend has slipped from rational thinking and into self control, as in control over oneself in all ways not merely knowing when to stop. The added “knowledge” on how to eject even the slightest amount of calories from her body pushes her further towards her goal…until THAT isn’t even enough. In the end, she’s the one to help break through Sethie’s silence…and yet there is another voice of reason that tries and tries again.
As surprising as it may seem, this second friend is a college boy she meets at one of the parties her, Janey, Shaw and crew attend; a party whose attendees rock Sethie’s world in multiple ways further along in the story. His name is Ben aka Jolly Green (as in giant because he is VERY tall) and along with a sense of humor, rock star smarts and a presence that’s easy on the eyes and heart, he has an interest in Sethie. Yes, he’s a guy, but one of the “good” ones and he would like to be more than friends, but even he can see she needs more than that right now; she needs a friend. He offers his shoulder to cry on with no strings attached; his ear to bend to discuss whatever is vexing her even the “oh-my-goodness-you-are-such-a-word-I-won’t-print-on-my-blog” guy/boyfriend Shaw. He’s there when push comes to shove and even after he’s shoved away still lingers in the background by checking up on her through friends. His concern is genuine and well intentioned but even he with his college smarts and caring ways isn’t enough to stop what’s coming; a parental or professional intervention is required. Hard as it may be to admit, sometimes that’s the only way to go…
In conclusion, it’s a hard read for many reasons but a necessary one as well. Though a fictional tale, it goes without saying that there are many people that have and are dealing with eating disorders in various stages as we speak. Recognizing the signs is not easy nor is it an exact science; being a good friend however is and a whole lot easier. It requires a contribution on the part of both parties involved through good times and bad. You have a bad day? You vent to them. They have a bad day? Venting right back is perfectly acceptable. Not feeling like you? Share the weight of the load; it leaves the door open for them further down the road and fosters that human connection that can often be softened in today’s technological world. It’s a matter of caring, of speaking out, and if things get too big for you to handle, seeking the help that is out there and helping them (or yourself) find their voice again.
About the author…
I was born in
Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New Yorkwhen I was six years old, I still think of myself as a girl. California
When I was little, I pretended that I didn’t like to read, because my sister loved to read, and I wanted to be different. (I also pretended that I didn’t like pizza, because it was her favorite food, I still get sad when I think of all the delicious pizza dinners I missed out on.) By the time I was eight, it was too hard to pretend I didn’t like to read, because the truth was that reading was my favorite thing in the world. I loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored....
...you can read more of her book-filled and inspiring story on her site. Wonder how a book like this comes to be? Check out this insightful and powerful post from the author herself that describes the book's journey from mind to matter and help spark a few conversations in your life and the lives of those you know.
Recommended read for teens through adult readers. You’ve been forewarned on the content but the message it carries is well worth the read. This book is scheduled for release August 28th, 2012 from Knopf Books for Young Readers / Random House Inc so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf near you. ARC for review courtesy of Laura at Random House Children's Books. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their complete catalog, be sure to visit them online, like them on Facebook, pin them on Pinterest, or follow along on Twitter. To discover more about the author from her previously published titles to those-yet-to-be, feel free to visit her official site or follow along on Twitter.
As this post was a part of the official blog tour, be sure to check out the other sites along the way starting with yesterday’s stop at Taking It One Book at a Time for an author interview, and tomorrow’s stop at Confessions of a Bookaholic for a guest post. BUT WAIT! Today’s stop isn’t over just yet. We talked about “sparking conversations” and thanks to Random House Children’s Books, you’re going to get a chance to do just that! How so? By scoring an ARC of this book to call your own! That’s right. One copy is up for grabs in this WIN IT BEFORE YOU CAN BUY IT giveaway that will draw to a conclusion on the night of the book’s official birthday, August 28th, 2012. Just use the Rafflecopter below for easy entry!
residents (sorry guys, I’m footing the bill on shipping); no P.O. Boxes please. Ends August 28th, 2012. U.S.
Good luck to one and all!
Until next time…happy reading.