Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. 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
Stevie’s thoughts are razor sharp and poisonous. Submerging yourself in her mind is like wading through toxic sludge, it’s painful and difficult to bear, but in the same capacity utterly powerful. You can know all about the triggers and symptoms of a disorder without ever truly grasping its severity. The author portrays anorexia and bulimia with a sensitivity and honesty that renders this novel gripping and heartbreaking. I loved Stevie, she was easy to empathize with and approached her time at the treatment center with grim determination. I feared for her wellbeing yet I wasn’t so caught up in feeling sorry for her that I couldn’t read on. Her recovery is slow and engaging. We are witness to Stevie’s ever evolving thought process as she comes to terms with being bulimic.
The author manages to explore Stevie’s use of anorexia, even though she’s diagnosed as bulimic, as an identity rather than a disorder and her profound disgust of consuming food in such great detail that I myself was cringing at the descriptions employed. Stevie doesn’t view her disorder as a weakness but as strength. This attention to detail made Stevie’s inability to ingest food believable and vivid. The author also highlights how the disorder impacts everyone differently and doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult subjects like abuse and death. Stevie’s relationships, with her brother, father and the other girls at the treatment center, at once heightened and alleviated the heady undercurrent of desperation that dominates this novel. Reading about the impact of her disorder on others was difficult but only further emphasized how Stevie touched everyone in the novel.
The underlining current of mysterious guilt as told through flashbacks continuously kept me on my toes and hungry for more. The worst part about flashbacks is that you know the person’s fate as you’re growing to like their character, which made the flashbacks almost painful to read but not any less enthralling.They were also strategically placed so as not to hinder the storytelling but instead aid us in understanding Stevie’s guilt and desperation.
Stevie’s story is one that is filled with trauma and tragedy. It was heavy and yet I couldn’t tear myself away from the novel. I highly recommend everyone try and take a glimpse into Stevie’s mind.