Tally ho everyone! I hope you’re all having a fantastic day so far and an even better weekend in this fine September. Anyhoo, I’m here today with my very first book review on Of Wonderland. CONFETTI CANNONS ACTIVATE.
I’m really excited to be bringing my reviews over on this blog every now and then and I thought this book would be the perfect one to start off with. I thought about just posting this review on my own blog but I REALLY wanted to post it on here. So yeah. That’s my reason. There isn’t one. Let’s just move on . . .
Title: Skin and Bones
Author: Sherry Shahan
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Jack, nicknamed “Bones,” won’t eat. His roommate in the eating disorder ward has the opposite problem and proudly goes by the nickname “Lard.” They become friends despite Bones’s initial reluctance. When Bones meets Alice, a dangerously thin dancer who loves to break the rules, he lets his guard down even more. Soon Bones is so obsessed with Alice that he’s willing to risk everything–even his recovery.
Goodreads Link: Skin and Bones- Sherry Shahan
This book does often refer to and mention the following: calorie counting, weight gain, weight loss, eating habits, eating rituals, characters swapping eating “hacks”, drugs, abuse, self-harm, purging, over-eating.
The first thing that I really LOVED about this book right off the bat was simply that it followed an anorexic teenage MALE. I cannot stress how happy this made me feel when I stumbled upon this book because (1) anorexia in males is SO IGNORED and (2) we NEED to talk about it more! It upsets me a bit that eating disorders have a stigma of being “female problems” when really, males are just as likely, though are fewer in numbers, to develop eating disorders. Not only that, but this book also seemed to focus on our main character, nicknamed Bones, and his eating disorder. starting off the story with him arriving at an eating disorder clinic where he will be staying until he’s made healthy progress in treatment.
Another thing I really liked about this book is even though it does mention some things that are potential triggers, it does so in an honest way. We really get to see what goes on in Bones’s head when he thinks of food, calories, how to burn them off, and why he sees his eating disorder as something to be kept and protected. Initially, Bones’s insecurity about his body started off as something he was able to control. He also had a put together family, one that supported and loved him but had nothing to do with him developing an unhealthy relationship with food. It was how he saw HIMSELF that was the root of the problem.
The hard-to-talk-about issues in this book were also well explained without being too heavy but also without being
too simple and rushed through. It was also surprisingly a very quick read. I found myself eager to get back to reading it every time I had to set it down and go about my day. I was that invested in wanting to see Bones’s journey as well as his friends’ recovery journey as they got to know each other and discovered that they had more in common than they realized. His roommate Lard was a great comic relief and I loved his character and personality. Even though Lard was a binge eater, he was a great supporter of Bones, wanting him to work hard at getting better, always urging him to eat more and healthily gain weight so as not to remain under the control of his anorexia.
Alice was another character that I both loved but also felt sorry for and wary of. Alice is a good portrayal of some girls with anorexia as she can be manipulative, tricky, and succumbs to her eating disorder. As a dancer, Alice is desperate to stay thin and refuses to consume anything, sometimes even avoiding water. She enables her disorder and also feeds Bones’s disorder, him starting to learn from her and taking her advice. Lard notices Bones falling for Alice’s tricks and often warns him, however Bones ignores the warnings. As the book goes on, we see growth in Bones and Lard, however, Alice is also an example of someone dealing with an eating disorder that sadly isn’t a success story. I won’t say what happens to Alice in the end, but it’s a bit obvious in the beginning that Alice is holding on too tightly to her disorder to find recovery in the short span of this book.
I think the only things I didn’t like about this book was (1) the time-gaps. Though this book was well-paced and easy to get through, I sometimes felt like I had accidentally skipped a page or something was missing. Some parts of the story were fleshed out and flowed smoothly, others felt a little choppy and overlooked. It didn’t bother me as much as the other problems I had with the book but it was noticeable. The second thing I didn’t enjoy about this book was the relationship between Bones and Alice. Alice was a very selfish character and didn’t seem to care at all about the other patients in the EDU, often getting Bones to do things for her and help her to stay thin knowing he could get into some serious trouble by helping her. Bones also was constantly describing Alice’s appearance, never once mentioning her personality, quirky habits, her talents. It made the “romance” between them seem very shallow. The final thing I didn’t like about the book was how Bones described his infatuation with Alice, using strange wording and often awkward and cringe-worthy phrases that sometimes made me roll my eyes or even skip those descriptions entirely.
Overall, this book was good though maybe not a stand-out. I don’t know if I would count it as a favorite but it still is a book I think could be an important read and maybe the start to bringing up more topics into YA literature that either go ignored or untouched. I think sensitive topics like eating disorders in males should be talked about way more and have a higher awareness raised. There are PLENTY of other topics that go untalked about that need to be addressed.
Is there a topic you feel needs to be mentioned in YA literature?