Tuesday, March 6, 2018

On The Spectrum by Jennifer Gold - OPTIONAL

Gold, Jennifer On The Spectrum, 319 pages. Second Story Press, 2017. $14. Language: R (26 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G. 9781772600421

Clara is an ordinary teenager with a very big problem: she was just diagnosed with orthorexia, an eating disorder characterized by an obsession with healthy eating and excessive exercise. To escape some twitter drama, Clara moves to Paris for the summer to stay with her father, stepmother, and stepbrother. She nannies for her stepbrother, Alastair, who is on the Autism spectrum. Through Alastair’s frank and unambiguous approach to the world, Clara begins to see her eating disorder with new perspective. To complicate matters, she also begins dating a French baker, who sees her problem and tries to help her. Even with all the help she receives, the question that drives the plot is whether Clara will ever accept that she has a problem and live life free of her body and food obsessions.

This book had an intriguing premise with a girl having to face her eating disorder in Paris, where delicious food is a part of everyday life. The main characters were likable and the book held my interest. Though I liked the characters, they often seemed to lack depth. Changes in the characters sometimes seemed abrupt since they characters were not fully developed or the change seemed unexplained. Similarily, some plot points were believable, but others were not. In particular, it seems unlikely that a social worker would get involved so quickly when a student was spotted weighing her food on a scale in chemistry class just one time. On the other hand, one impressive element was the way the author realistically described Clara’s reactions to food by showing Clara’s revulsion to food and her internal monologue of constant calorie counting. She powerfully conveyed how irrational an unhealthy food obsession can make a person, which could add to a reader’s understanding of eating disorders. This book receives an R for language because it uses the “f” word nine times. It receives a PG-13 for mature content because of drug and alcohol references. 

HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: MQ.

No comments: