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A Reader of Fictions: Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog

Riders of the Apocalypse, Book 1

Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Genre: fantasy
Pages: 177
ARC Acquired From: Houghton Mifflin booth at ALA 2010

Brief Summary:
Lisabeth Lewis thinks she is too fat. She exercises constantly, counts calories and envies the self-control of her bulimic best friend Tammy. Lisabeth is anorexic, although she will not admit it; she does not believe someone as fat as she is could be anorexic. Her friendship with Tammy arose when her previous best friend accused her of being anorexic. Tammy understands her in a way Suzanne never did. Her eating disorder becomes more severe all the time and her boyfriend and parents are starting to take notice, which is causing arguments and tension. When Death shows up at her doorstep, stopping a suicide attempt, to give her the scales of Famine, she thinks she has imagined it. Until he shows up again and she goes for a ride on the invisible (to everyone else) horse on the lawn. Performing the role of a Horseman of the Apocalypse may just provide some much needed perspective on Lisabeth's life.

While the book does eventually come out on the side of not being anorexic, reading the sections where Lisabeth (what kind of a name is that anyway?) wishes she could be bulimic is (pardon the incredibly awful pun) nauseating. Add to this the constant interruptions of the Thin voice, which constantly reminds Lisabeth that "Anorexics don't have muffin tops," so she is not anorexic. The voice tells her not to eat and mocks her. This may be how it feels to have an eating disorder, as the author reveals at the end that she suffered from bulimia for a time. but it drove me crazy.

Perhaps worst of all are some of the delightful scatalogical scenes that come along with a book centered largely on anorexia and bulimia. After her first night working as Famine, there is a lovely description of Lisabeth's really painful poo. Later, when she spends time with Tammy, the reader is treated to an even more detailed description of vomiting. Certainly this might be off putting to a teen considering throwing up as a method of weight loss, but it also urged me to keep far away from any other books this series may have.

Although this book is technically fantasy (and I marked its genre as fantasy for lack of a better heading), Hunger is far more about eating disorders than about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In fact, the whole fantasy frame story could easily be read as a dream that motivates Lisabeth to change her ways. The fantasy elements never feel real and are only a vehicle for keeping the book from being preachy.

I do not particularly recommend this book. If you really like books that deal openly with tough teen issues, like Speak does, then this book may interest you. This not being my niche area, I am just glad the book was really short.

"I don't mind stealing bread
From the mouths of decadence
But I can't feed on the powerless

When my cup's already overfilled"

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