Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert. Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid. Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.
This book was so incredibly harsh. And raw. And painful. And probably a million other adjectives.
If you have ever had disordered eating, this book will be triggering for you. It was for me. For me, I never got as bad as Stevie, but I was pretty messed up. There was a time when I would eat less than 1000 calories a day and work out about two hours a day seven days a week. It was brutal. I eventually started eating again, but the problem was that there was a LONG time when I would go from one extreme to another: I would either severely restrict my calories or I would binge on everything in sight. I am better now, but it has taken a long time to learn my hunger cues and eat normally. It's still a struggle though. Okay, so what is the point of that very long ramble? The point is that because of my experience, I could relate to Stevie so well. Stevie was mean and distant and cynical and she refused to see that she had a problem. She thought that no one could possibly understand what she was going through.
The book begins with Stevie entering treatment and there are flashbacks to how Steve's issues with food began and how her brother died . . . though it took a while to get that part. This book was HARD to read, especially with my issues around food, but man it was so incredibly realistic. Her constant comparisons of herself to other girls, her talk of willpower and her constant obsession with food and trying to count every single calorie that went into her body . . . all of it was completely realistic and so relatable. I loved her therapist and I loved the other characters in the eating disorder clinic. They all had their issues and most of them were attempting to get better, which Stevie had a hard time with and judged them for. Sometimes her thoughts could be hard to take because she is so judgmental and depressed and angry. But there is also a LOT of character development here. I don't really mind that she's so unlikeable because she had issues. She was going through a lot. She also struggled with drugs and alcohol and guilt over her brother's death and a VERY unhealthy friendship with a girl back home.
Do you know what I really loved about this book? NO ROMANCE! There was kind of a hint of something in the flashbacks (no spoilers), but this book is ALL ABOUT her recovery. There are too many times when a relationship is seen as "the answer" in books about mental illness, so that was refreshing. And I know her dad wasn't shown a whole lot in this book because she was away getting treatment, but I could still tell that he loved her and wanted her to get better. He was the one who sent her to treatment after all.
Have I mentioned how hard this book is to read? It's worth repeating. But it's completely worth it.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!