"I can't let myself cry. That's what Mom wants me to do. She wants me to collapse in exhaustion and admit I need help. She wants me to admit I'm sad and hungry and tired."
Twelve-year old Riley is lying in a strange bed, next to a strange girl who is hooked up to an IV and faced with all of her own thoughts that tell her she is wrong. Her parents have brought her to this hospital to save her life. Riley doesn't think she's too skinny. She can never be too skinny and she sure as heck isn't going back to being the fat version of herself who gets mocked and shamed in the cafeteria line at school.
So, what do you do when you have anorexia and you've been put into a treatment facility? What's it like to be that girl? (Interesting that that no boys are mentioned here.) Day by day Riley starts unbuilding the self she created to protect herself from pain.
It's hard to be the older sister when your younger sister, Julia, is a star gymnast. It's hard to be the girl whose artwork doesn't seem to be good enough especially when your mother runs an art gallery. It's hard to be the daughter whose father doesn't take her to Dunkin Donuts every Saturday morning and whose Dad doesn't choose to spend special time with her anymore. That's what Riley is up against plus some.
Riley has a voice in her head. Every girl at the treatment facility has a voice in her head. It's the voice that tells her she doesn't want to eat anything and tells her food is disgusting and that she'll be disgusting if she eats. She names the voice, "Ed."
Anybody know anybody who doesn't have Ed in her head? Ed gets around. He seems to show up in a lot of heads telling us we aren't good enough as we are Maybe we're not smart enough, or not pretty enough. It's all the same beat down. It's all the same sorry talk that makes us feel like we just don't measure up to ....something.
This is a story about what it's like to face your inner demons and to live among girls who are facing their own inner demons. There is a page in this book that every girl should read. It's about what's on the other side of Ed's voice... or better yet, what's on the other side of your own fears. What does that look like? What does that feel like? Can it really happen for you?
In Riley's case she is up against her own inner enemy and she's up against parents who really don't get it. It's not just Riley's problem here, it's clearly a family system problem. This book could be an amazing savior for readers who struggle with body image and beyond. You don't have to have a body image to know the feelings Riley feels.
So, can Riley do it? Can she conquer the voice in her head? Can she fight her fears of what will happen to her if she gains weight? Can she get back to being her true self? Surrounded by Brenna, Laura, Ali, she has some support and some enemies and little by little, talking with Willow, the therapist, finding people she likes just for who they are on the inside, just maybe she'll see her real self in that mirror.
A huge brava for Jen Petro-Roy who had the courage to put it all out there for girls and boys to see a mirror of themselves and a pathway out of their personal Hell. This is exactly the kind of story and truth that we need these days to empower our girls (and boys) to love and accept their own unique selves and to begin to conquer the opioid epidemic.
Great story. Great message.
272 pages 978-1250123510 Ages 9-15
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
A young girl with an eating disorder must find the strength to recover in this moving middle-grade novel from Jen Petro-Roy Before she had an eating disorder, twelve-year-old Riley was many things: an aspiring artist, a runner, a sister, and a friend.
But now, from inside the inpatient treatment center where she's receiving treatment for anorexia, it's easy to forget all of that. Especially since under the influence of her eating disorder, Riley alienated her friends, abandoned her art, turned running into something harmful, and destroyed her family's trust.
If Riley wants her life back, she has to recover. Part of her wants to get better. As she goes to therapy, makes friends in the hospital, and starts to draw again, things begin to look up.
But when her roommate starts to break the rules, triggering Riley's old behaviors and blackmailing her into silence, Riley realizes that recovery will be even harder than she thought. She starts to think that even if she does "recover," there's no way she'll stay recovered once she leaves the hospital and is faced with her dieting mom, the school bully, and her gymnastics-star sister.
Written by an eating disorder survivor and activist, Good Enough is a realistic depiction of inpatient eating disorder treatment, and a moving story about a girl who has to fight herself to survive.--from the publisher
272 pages 978-1250123510 Ages 9-12
Editor's Note: There is a non-fiction companion book called You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery