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The Best Little Girl in the World (Puffin Teenage Fiction) [Paperback]

Steven Levenkron
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 May 1996 Puffin Teenage Fiction
This story is based on the theme of anorexia. To her father, Francesca is "the best little girl in the world", but at her ballet class she realizes she is "fat". With this realization, fat Francesca has to die, and slim Kessa takes her place. Help arrives in the shape of Sandy Sherman, a doctor.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; New edition edition (30 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140373209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140373202
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
At the barre the girls moved and stretched, pointed and arched to Madame's precise cadence. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic overview by a self-important man. 29 Jan 2005
As an experienced (15 years ill), well-recovered anorexic and student of the mind, I have read virtually all books written on eating disorders, especially anorexia. I read this book many years ago, and its negative impression has remained with me. There are elements of truth in this book - ones that actually made it "easier" for me to be anorexic when I first became ill. (I recovered several years ago). Triggering would be the correct terminology - so beware.

Behaviours are described with very little (if any) insight into the actual disease and its horrors. It is insulting to have such deep-rooted, painful issues dismissed by creating someone suddenly recovering by just deciding to. It is not that simple. Such writing may lead people to greater self-execration (if that is possible in eating disorder sufferers) by making them feel utterly blameworthy. It did for me.

Certainly, determination helps, but conscious efforts are not usually enough on their own - how ever strong you may be. Recovery needs buckets of support and time.

I cannot help but feel angry that the author seems to love himself a little too much and really believes his heroic, perceptive treatment "saved the day." Well meaning but with no insight. If you want a superficial book, read this. If not, don't bother. There are many better books to choose from.

I didn't bother to read the sequel.

Katy Sara Culling.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought I'd lost it 20 May 2003
By A Customer
I first read this book at the age of about 11 or something, and I remember how it made me feel. I had known people with anorexia, and was later to realise that my best friend was bulimic and that i too was going to struggle with self-hatred and eating problems. Francesca's story moved me then, and recently, having been recommended this book by the computer, I read it again. It loses nothing. I couldn't remember the name of the book that touched me over nine years ago, then as soon as I saw it on the page it brought it back. This may seem irrelevant to a review, but is necessary to point out just how touching, poignant, saddening and honest this book really is.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good intentions but dangerous 13 Jun 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this shortly after my own anorexia had begun. I measured myself against Francesca (the girl in the book) and felt I wasn't thin enough, disciplined enough, etc. There are behaviours and weights in here that I began aspiring to. If you are already vulnerable to eating disorders, such things are very dangerous.

I can see that the author had good intentions, such as teaching the public about a (then) little known problem, but the fact remains that for anyone vulnerable to an eating disorder, this book is likely to do more harm than good. If you are trying to recover, read something else. This book is likely to make you feel bad about yourself.

It gives the very dangerous impression that an eating disorder can be picked up and put down as simply as the flu. In reality, you will suffer horrible physical effects - worse, the longer you stay ill. The irony is that you do it to try to feel LESS disgusting, but in the end, when the physical side catches up to you - and it will - you feel even more revolting.

I would recommend the DVD Dying to be thin, and a series of video blogs on youtube by a recovering sufferer called Kat (user name eniwekwe) because these talk about the reality of the illness. Most sufferers think they are "getting away with it" because they don't feel so bad, but the physical damage will not make you feel ill until it has gone too far to be undone. Your insides will pack up and you can lose control of your bowels, you can lose your teeth, your hair, the use of your legs, you can get heart attacks... This lady on one of the documentaries was a ballet dancer and now has to use a zimmer at the age of 45. A friend of mine has a colostomy (a bag attached to her bowel).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good for non-anorexics 26 July 2007
By Susie
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this in my teens (a good 15 years ago) and was so struck by it I made myself memorise the title. I'm surprised to read that people with anorexia find it triggering, and a little sad, but I thought it was a gripping story and a good introduction for someone who doesn't know anything about it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opened my eyes 21 Feb 2006
By A Customer
It is 20 years since I read this book and it is one of very few I remember. I found it very moving and as a teenager it introduced me to real side of a problem that was often a source of playground sniggering due to lack of understanding.
Befor reading this book I thought it was funny to poke fun at the thin girl and accuse her of being anorexic, I had no idea what turmoil you must go through to turn to this.
I can see that those who have been there may be worried that this may trigger the problem but as an ignorant child this was an educational read that I felt was well written. I would have no hesitation in reccomending it to my own children
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good...but triggering 27 April 2004
My parents bought this me when i was first diagnosed with anorexia. A goodstory it is, but it can be soo triggering. When I was finally hospitalisedI'd read it all the time: it was my illness' way of clinging ontome.
DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE AN EATING DISORDER AND YOU WANT TO GETBETTER. Ana's, friends, you've probably read it. Remember, it is fiction.How many normal 5'6''girls weigh 98 pounds to start with?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating
Beautifully written book on eating disorders- an essential read for anyone interested/ or studying eating disorders. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jessthemonster
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Absolutely fabulous! If you've ever met someone/are related to someone/or if you are someone who has/is suffering from and eating disorder or even if you're studying the topic,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ellen Forsyth
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
Have seen the film and the book is very true to it. A difficult subject told in a very readable way.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs Yvonne June Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as the eating disorder anorexia nervosa is expressed in such an insightful way. Read more
Published 14 months ago by becca
5.0 out of 5 stars A accurate book, if your looking to understand
Accurate account, Good read! If you want to thoroughly understand this illness read this book you won't be disappointed very good!
Published 16 months ago by kelly m
4.0 out of 5 stars Review for Steven Levenkron's best little girl in the world.
The book was in quite good condition when i got it. Not quite sure if im meant to be singing the books or the sellers praises on here so will do both. Read more
Published on 25 Jan 2011 by Roast
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book but a warning if you have or are in recovery from an...
Once i started this book i couldn't put it down.... i was drawn into Kessa's little world which i felt comfy and obsessed with. Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2008 by nuttychick
1.0 out of 5 stars Triggering
This book is (if any can be) incredibly triggering, obviously there has to be something there in the first place because im sure many people have read this book and not developed... Read more
Published on 3 Dec 2007 by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading
While I understand that people view this book as setting anorexic standards to the anorexic, I do consider this to be a good book. Read more
Published on 20 April 2006 by Reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Potentially damaging
I wrote a review of this book 4 years ago now. I liked it at the time, but now I'm older, I can appreciate that this is a rather dangerous book. Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2005 by Ms. S. H. Nicholson
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