author’s website: Deborah Lytton
release date: March 19, 2009
appeals to: Middle Grade or Young Adult
length: 208 pages
publisher: Dutton Juvenile
overall rating: 4.5 stars
body image & self perception issue: eating disorder
*the inside flap*
Jane’s big sister, Lizzie, has always been the center of attention. No one ever pays attention to boring, plain Jane. But Jane’s twelfth birthday marks the beginning of Lizzie’s final descent into a fatal eating disorder, and Jane discovers that the only thing harder than living in her big sister’s shadow is living without her . . . .
In the wake of tragedy, Jane learns to look through her camera lens and frame life differently, embracing her broken family and understanding that every girl has her season to blossom.
Jane is a typical 12 year-old girl. She’s excited to celebrate her 12th birthday, she can’t wait to finally get her ears pierced, and she admires her big sister, Lizzie, to bits. Unfortunately, Jane describes some things about her sister that might be huge warning signs to an older person. For example, Lizzie fights her parents about eating even one bite of food, she runs all the time, even without eating, she resists eating food as much as possible, and she is tied to her journal, shutting out everything else. Jane doesn’t see these things as problems – it’s just Lizzie being Lizzie - until Lizzie collapses and has to be hospitalized for her, eventually fatal, eating disorder.
Jane’s connection to her big sister is beautiful. She truly admires Lizzie and is completely devastated by her loss. As Jane’s family begins the healing process, Jane turns to photography and finds that she has quite a talent. She befriends an older woman, Ethel, who hires Jane to photograph her rose garden. While Jane tackles the project, we see her bloom into her own personality and talent. Jane works through her grief on her own terms, and matures in her understanding of how much Lizzie struggled, and of how present Lizzie can remain in her life.
Lizzie’s eating disorder is tragic, but this story really shows how an eating disorder can impact and devastate an entire family. The book describes how blame, guilt, and a roller coater of emotions play a role in the family’s daily interactions. This is an incredible story about family, growing up, and accepting that the people we love have faults, but we still love them.
*short and snappy*
writing: beautifully captures the essence of a 12 year-old’s feelings and emotions
plot: a lot happens in this relatively short novel, be it never feels rushed.
characters: Lizzie, Jane, Mom, and Dad all have elements to their personalities that show depth, and as the book continues, some of the “minor” characters play important roles in extracting those depths
memorable line: Sometimes life has a way of turning things around. So that the things that were upside down are right side up. (p. 180)
judging by the cover: a perfect connection to the story