Title: What I Lost
Author: Alexandra Ballard
Genre: YA Contemporary, Eating disorders, Anorexia
Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Formats: Hardcover, ebook
Source: E-galley from Publisher
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?
This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know that I tend to read books about eating disorders. The reason for that is because I always feel a little connection. I am in no way claiming to have an actual eating disorder. What I am saying is that I can feel the same types of feelings that the characters in these books share. While I am pretty much able to control myself so that I don't go down those paths, or maybe just my personality doesn't let me go that way, when I read these stories, I feel emotionally for these girls. I can see how easy it is to slip into the habits and lifestyles that they do. I'm pretty sure that I, like probably many girls/other people, have a distorted body image. I remember when I was at what is an ideal weight for my height, and how I still would feel that I had a stomach bulge, something that while I can go look at pictures now and see there wasn't any such thing, I still remember looking in the mirror and seeing it. Even today when I look at pictures of myself, or catch myself in a mirror, I can see something that I know is not right or maybe I think it looks better than it does when I see myself in a picture. I don't know, enough about me probably. Let's just say that I read this type of book because it helps me look in and take a look at what I am thinking.
I feel like this story was very realistic, yet had what a good story can have, a happy, yet realistically happy ending. All the things that Elizabeth went through were so real. She didn't go in and just follow all the rules and get better. She didn't just have a bunch of people around her that were inspiring and perfect. When other girls may have gotten to leave the clinic, they slipped, they returned, and as they had done before, during and after their time at the clinic, they lied. So did Elizabeth, even when it seemed she was going to be ready to go back out and try on her own in the real world, she slipped. But I like that she had real parents in the story. Parents that made their own mistakes. They loved her, they were supportive, but didn't necessarily know how to do what needed to be done. To see that maybe it was something in her family life that maybe helped push her in the direction she went in order to end up where she was. The fact that even back in her parents' past could also have contributed to this whole situation was also very telling. While it is so easy to blame the bullies, to blame parents for what they've done, it is always also important to look just at what may be the cause of why they behave the way they do. Believe me, I am NOT saying any kind of bullying or bad parenting is okay, I'm saying that looking at why those things happen could be exactly what could help in the end. If those people are willing to help themselves and get better.
I could write a very long review about this. I guess these days I should probably say something about possible triggers in here for people with eating issues. But I feel the author did a good job with them. Didn't gloss over, make them look silly and easy to overcome. This is another great book to share about this topic. And the romance in here? Also a perfect and pretty realistic one for me. It was not what you thought. Although I did get a little inkling when we first got a clue that it wasn't who Elizabeth had assumed sending the anonymous gifts. The book touches on social media issues, as well as looks at just how hard it is for not only the person dealing with the issue to talk about it, but also for how hard it is to be a friend and not know how to deal with it. Great, great story. Definitely will be purchasing for the school library where I work.
About the Author:
Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master's from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. What I Lost is Alexandra's first novel.
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