Title: Skinny
Author: Ibi Kaslik
Pub Date: 2004
Pages: 244
Genre: YA, Eating Disorders

Giselle is an early twenty something med student who has a nervous breakdown. Unable to deal with the grief of losing an unloving father, the powerful voice of self-loathing convinces her to starve.

Holly, her younger sister and athlete, not only struggles with watching her older sister slowly die in front of her, but is often asked questions about their father who obviously loved her more.

This story is told in alternating voices: Giselle's voice is filled with longing, hatred, and devastation; Holly's voice is filled with anger, frustration, the desire to have and live her own life, and dealing with normal adolescent troubles.

This is Canadian author Kaslik's first novel, and her writing is often harsh and powerful:
"He started the whole mess with those ice-blue eyes that kept me begging for my right to exist. Holly doesn't know what it's like to love someone who doesn't care whether you life or die. She doesn't yet realize that love unreturned eventually transforms into a fierce tangled mess, nerves and entrails exposed like split animal innards. She doesn't understand that sometimes the unrequited must demand reparations, that love can be a mean and spiteful process, that sometimes one loses patience with love. So, when the nerves and guts have seemingly been packed away, sewn in and cleaned up so as not to make all the innocent bystanders uncomfortable, the carrier of this love becomes heavy with toxic lump that grows, slowly, and steadily, into a fierce ball of scarred tissue."
I love the raw imagery she uses her. Anyone who has ever loved someone who has not loved them knows the inner turmoil of that experience - it's searing, gut-wrenching, and convulsive. And then to imagine that unreturned love coming from a parent only magnifies the pain.

This is the writing that pulled me in. Unfortunately, at times, the voice was distant and non-linear which added a bit of confusion. Plus, I'm not a big fan of the multiple voices convention.

I could really appreciate where Holly was coming from a lot more than Giselle. I don't know what it was about her (and this will probably make me sound like a horrible person) but I really wanted to just shout, "for chrissake's will you just die already?". I know, I know. I really am a good person, and do not under-empathize the destructive hell that ensues when an eating disorder enters someone's world. I just didn't feel as though that self-destructive voice was nearly as authentic as, say, Anderson's portrayal in Wintergirls. And so, having Wintergirls still fresh in my mind (even though it was nearly six months away, the book was that powerful), I have trouble comparing other anorexic voices to Lia's (the main character).

I do hope that Kaslik writes more novels. Overall, this was a great first publication.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE the cover of this book. Your review is great and I had to laugh (just a little) at your line... "will you just die already"?


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