There just aren't that many YA novels about eating disorders with male characters.
And this one isn't "about" eating disorders. Yes, it takes place in a hospital ward that is a residential treatment program for eating disorders. Yes, Bones has anorexia. Yes, his roommate has the opposite problem (overeating to the detriment of his precarious diabetes state). And yes, everyone else on the ward has one or another disorder. But this story really doesn't focus on it. Not to say that the eating disorders were just a vehicle for getting to the rest of the YA story...it's just the focus to me seemed to be that teenage issues don't stop just because you have an eating disorder.
And that's okay.Bones is a teenage boy, with all the usual teenage boy issues and thoughts. He just also has anorexia. He wants a girlfriend who gets him, and he finds a possible love interest in Alice, who is more obsessed with perfection than he is.
Here's what I liked...
- I liked that that there was a wide spectrum of eating disorders portrayed. Any unhealthy relationship with food (or the lack of it) is an eating disorder.
- I liked that, in what to me seems very realistic, Bones didn't come to the ward with any desire to "get better." He had to grow into the mindset that he had a problem.
- I liked that Shahan explained how Bones and Alice both started down the roads they did. I would've liked more about why Lard and the others were there.
- I liked the interactions in the family therapy scenes. Again, seemed very realistic to me.
My only real "problem" with the book is that it felt disjointed at times. Here and there I felt like there were scenes missing. Clearly, the characters were supposed to get from point A to point C, but B was skipped. Sometimes the shortest distance between 2 points IS a straight line, but it's not always the best way to travel, you know?