- Hardcover: 231 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Trade); First Printing edition (10 Dec. 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0395604796
- ISBN-13: 978-0395604793
- Package Dimensions: 20.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,728,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Life-Size Hardcover – 10 Dec 1992
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About the Author
Jennifer Shute was raised in South Africa. She has taught at universities in the United States and Europe, and now lives in Boston. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
It's a dark read with no real happy ending to soften the relentless sickly misery of Josie, the hospitalised protagonist. But this is what is so powerful about the book, Jenefer Shute really captures an aspect of anorexia I've not seen so vividly evoked before; the squalid banality of starving to death and the frenzied, frantic motivation to keep doing so, to stay in control.
The setting is as static as the protagonist's mindset, which might seem frustrating but I thought it was appropriate. On a hospital ward for re-feeding, all Josie does is eat and rage and drift through her memories - the flashbacks are the only break we get from the hospital environment, and they're just as bleak. Only by the end of the book is Josie deemed physically stable enough to begin the real therapy and this is where we leave her, broken by the feeding regime and still ambivalent about life.
My only problem with the book is Josie's character! In the hospital and in the flashbacks she's a mean-spirited spoiled brat and that gets exhausting to read quickly. Of course, she has reasons to be angry, but she's not a pleasant companion to share the hospital experience with.
The book is narrated by Josie, a severely anorexic young woman. The book is essentially a static one, with little plot except the memories and flashbacks in her mind. Starting off in the hospital where Josie has ended up and working backwards, we piece together the steps and events it has taken to get to this point.
Written with complete accuracy, the author manages to effectively convey the thoughts and mentality of a person with anorexia right down to the specific details. As we see the world through Josie's eyes, we see everything from the persepctive of a disordered mind. And Josie's extreme polarised thinking is made bearable (and even enjoyable) by a sharp wit and a deeply dark sense of humour. It is crafted almost like a piece of horror, a piece of black humour where the reality presented to us is so horrific that it becomes almost funny. It is similar in a way to Bret Easton Ellis's 'American Pyscho', where the mentality of a pyschopath becomes the 'norm' for the reader, and you become used it.
The narrative switches back and forth between past memories and present day, which gives the reader a brief and snatched reasons as to why Josie has become the way she has. Short insinuations about paternal abuse quickly appears only to disappear just as quickly again, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. This is an effective way of writing, as it accurately mirrors the way Josie's mind works - brief memories quickly pushed to the back of her mind, so as not to dredge up past horrors. It makes for a gripping read, always leaving you wanting more information.
A truly great piece of fiction - and an inspired choice using an anorexic as a protaginist without resorting to using the novel as a piece of anti-anorexic propoganda.
This book explains carefully what it is like to be anorexic, and explains her thoughts well.
The only thing that I didn't like was things that were hinted at but not explained properly, such as what really happened with her Dad, and a trip to the hospital, which I'm assuming was after she ate the glass?
I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to know about eating disorders, or just for general reading it's definitly worth a look.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Blisteringly funny despite the subject matter. Beautifully written swipe at the consumer culture of the 90s.Published 19 months ago by Alice Jones
This book is amazing, really well written and it was gripping from start to finish. It gave a perfect insight into the mind of someone with an eating disorder, and I would... Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2012 by Alice92
This was a friend's book that some 'nice' person stole when I was in hospital. Story eventually becomes tedious on and on and on, but maybe that's how someone who is anorexic is.Published on 12 April 2011 by Maureen A. Jeffs
For me this is the most perfect novel since "the Bell Jar" and I have reread it many times. It is excellent, extremely funny as well as poignant.Published on 15 May 2009 by Amazon Customer