Saturday, March 1, 2014

Skin & Bones

I think the majority of the population is aware of Eating Disorders, and how girls are affected by them.  Not much is highlighted, though, on how they affect guys.

Skin and Bones by Sherry Shahan is a YA novel that addresses this issue from the perspective of Jack (nicknamed "Bones"), a sixteen-year-old boy who is anorexic.  The story takes place in an eating disorder ward, where Bones and his roommate "Lard" gradually become friends.  As Bones navigates the rules of the ward, he ends up meeting Alice- a thin dancer who loves to break the rules.  At what cost will Bones try to win Alice?

On the one hand- I appreciated the novel taking the perspective it did.  Showing how one remark in fifth grade can have the impact it does; affecting the person years later.  And also how each character developed the disorder, and how they dealt with it.  In that sense, I compared it to the TV show Orange is the New Black- I was very interested in learning the back stories of the other patients.

On the other hand- I found myself so, so frustrated with some of the characters.  I get teen hormones, but really?  You know this person is dangerously close to self-destructing...just tell the guy in charge!  There were also a few times I found myself thinking "I wonder what someone who has gone through this recovery process would think of the novel."  I don't mean that in an "I don't trust the writer" way- more of a "I'd like to hear this from the perspective of someone I know who's been through this."

I appreciated the sick irony of  a Carpenter's song blaring from the radio as Alice wheeled in the room at one point.  Karen Carpenter lends herself to some foreshadowing as well.  I actually have written in my notes "I don't know if I should find this clever or offensive..."

Shahan includes additional resources at the end of the book- links to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders Inc. (NAMED).  She also includes information about Eating Disorders in general.

I may contact my friend who has gone through this, and get her opinion on the book.  Overall, though, I enjoyed it.  I had many conflicting emotions reading it, and I'll chalk that up to the writing.  It also brought up some things I hadn't thought about before.  As I said, too, I like that Shahan wrote from the perspective of a young man. 

Skin & Bones is published by Albert Whitman & Co.  Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date: 03.01.2014

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