This is a very powerful, emotional book about two teenage girls with weight issues. The main character, Lia, has serious anorexia. At 18, she has already been hospitalised twice but still resisits all efforts to encourage her to eat. She equates 'empty' with 'strong'. Lia's childhood friend, Cassie, suffers with bulimia, she binges and then brings up, vast quantities of food. As the book opens, Cassie has been found dead in a motel room, alone, having called Lia's mobile 33 times. In recent months they had drifted apart and Lia did not want to speak to Cassie, now she must deal with the guilt that she was not there for her friend when she was needed.
As Lia struggles to come to terms with Cassie's death, she becomes thinner by the day. She uses a host of tricks to convince her ever vigilant mother, father and step-mother that she is eating - leaving crumbs on her plate, pleading a recent meal, cutting food into tiny pieces and picking at it until they have lost interest. She spends sleepless nights on the stepper and does hundreds of crunches in an attempt to burn off more calories that she consumes, she knows the calorific value of every food. Thin is good - she wants to be the thinnest girl in the school. By the time she is reaching her goal she has started to fall asleep in class, faint and halucinate. On top of this she is self harming, an activity that becomes progessively more destructive throughout the book.
The author probes Lia's background in an attempt to provide explanations for her behaviour, her parents' divorce, her father's remarriage, her mother's devotion to her job. But she also has a support network and resons to live - particularly her young step-sister, Emma.
There are some clever devices used by the author; particularly Lia's 'bad' thoughts - crossed out and surplanted by 'good' thoughts. (Which, sadly, I can't reproduce here). However, it was an issue with the way the book was written that made this a four star read for me - sometimes it was a bit too wacky, a bit too teenage perhaps. Given that this is the target audience, then fine, but as an adult reader it alienated me slightly. Putting that aside though, I'm sure this will be a useful addition to the eating disorder novels that more and more teenagers will relate to and I hope it will help some to see it for what it really is - a slow death.