Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Letting Ana Go by Anonymous

Kids today probably don’t know Go Ask Alice, the young adult novel from 30 years ago that was supposedly the true diary of a girl sinking deeper and deeper into drug addiction. Letting Ana Go is obviously a modern twist on this style—a cautionary tale told in the first person about a young person who slowly goes from being a good girl with everything going for her to a psychological disaster. The narrator has no real reason to diet except that she runs cross country and needs to track her calories to be sure she is eating enough. However, her best friend, Jill, is a ballet dancer who begins losing dangerous amounts of weight in order to further her dance ambitions. The narrator counts calories in solidarity with Jill at first, but then finds that she gets positive attention from her new boyfriend (Jill's brother) and that it helps her deal with her parents' breakup. She soon becomes unable to stop her dangerous behavior. I am no expert on anorexia. I cannot say whether this book accurately represents the progression of this disease, but I can say that it did not ring true to me. The narrator's descent into the disease happens rather quickly and her health also fails too rapidly for me to believe. I found it hard to suspend my disbelief enough to think that this girl really would have let this disease get the best of her. I think there is a subset of teen and pre-teen girls who will like this book because of the subject matter and the appeal of “problem novels” but I cannot say that I recommend it to readers in general. If you really want a chilling look at eating disorders try Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

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