Purge by Sarah Darer Littman (review copy) - Janie Ryman hates throwing up. So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That’s what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifting friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward. From Amazon US
This was such an amazing book! And in so many more ways than you would think from the blurb! I just loved it!
This is in no way a heavy book. As much as I was looking forward to reading Purge, I did assume it was going to be a pretty hard book to read emotionally. Although it's no picnic, it's not as hard as I thought it would be. It's actually pretty light and humourous in places, and I found myself hooked from the first line!
What I love is about this story is that it starts with Janie getting help. She's already int he psychiatric hospital, and although she doesn't think she has a problem, and would rather be anywhere but there, she is, and the people there are there to help. I think this is great firstly because from the start you know there's a way out for Janie if she chooses to take it, and secondly, because it shows you exactly what's involved in recovery for bulimia.
We do find out about Janie's story, about why she has bulimia and how she ended up at Golden Slopes, but Darer Littman trickles bits and pieces of her backstory throughout the book, so you're eagerly reading to find out what happened, but also engaged enough with Janie's here and now; with how she is dealing with her recovery, whether she'll make it or fall off the wagon. You're also kept engaged through the stories of the other patients. The other "Barfers" and the "Starvers" - those with bulimia and those with anorexia. Although we focus on Janie, you also come to care about the other patients and whether they recover. Some of the group therapy scenes are really heart breaking, yet eye-opening.
I noticed that not at one point in the novel do we find out what Janie's weight is. We don't get told her actual weight, and, although she thinks she's fat, we don't have her friends, family, or doctors try to convince her that she's not. She gets told she's pretty, but not whether she's fat or skinny. I just love that! It doesn't make a difference what her weight actually is, it's what she thinks about the way she looks that matters. Whether she is overweight or not, she is bulimic, and it's a change in attitude that's needed to help her recover, not necessarily a change in weight.
What I also found is that when Janie was describing how she felt, it seemed a whole lot more real, because Darer Littman suffered with bulimia herself. There's something that seems more believable when you know the author has been through what the main character is fgoing through, in comparison to an author researching and trying to get into a sufferer's head - not that I'm knocking it. It just felt at times like Darer Littman was speaking herself through Janie, and that made it hit home just a little bit more - Purge isn't autobiographical, but it's not just a story, some of those feelings are real.
This is such a brilliant book! Darer Littman also has resources for body image and eating disorders which I think would be so beneficial to those who are suffering with bulemia and anorexia. I really can't recommend Purge enough! You all really need to read this book! I am really looking forward to reading more by Sarah Darer Littman!
Thank you to Sarah Darer Littman for sending me a review copy.
Published: April 2010 (reprint)
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