Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publication: Graphia; None edition (October 18, 2010)

Description: "Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world."

     Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

     Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home—her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power—and the courage to fight her own inner demons?

     A wildly original approach to the issue of eating disorders, Hunger is about the struggle to find balance in a world of extremes, and uses fantastic tropes to explore a difficult topic that touches the lives of many teens.

My Thoughts: What a fascinating combination of teenage "problem novel" and fantasy. Lisabeth is struggling with anorexia and is firmly in denial when she is drafted by Death to be the next Famine. Getting into the mind of a young woman who is anorexic was both fascinating and scary. Her inner voice kept telling her she was fat and Lisa couldn't silence it. She was drifting away from her boyfriend, her friends, and even life when Death shows up.

Lisa travels the world as Famine and sees real hunger first hand. She learns to use her own forced starvation to ease the plight of some people who are caught in a famine and learns her own strength. I liked how Lisabeth gained strength and confidence as she played the role of Famine. I liked the happy (or at least, hopeful) ending.

The characters were all interesting too. From Death who looks to Lisa like a dead grunge rocker, to War who tries to intimidate her, and Pestilence who tells her that they work well together which leads to the typical teenage reaction of "ew" from Lisa. Lisa's view of her family with a father who is idolized but who escapes into alcohol each night and a mother who is a pattern of perfection and who constantly snipes at Lisa help us to understand why she might have become anorexic. Both parents are busy with their own lives and concerns and tend to not really see Lisa. And, naturally, Lisa's defensiveness kicks in when her friend and boyfriend try to confront her about her anorexia. She goes out and makes a new friend who is bulimic but who looks to Lisa like she has everything together.

This story was quick to read but will certainly not be quickly forgotten. I recommend it to all teens. Lisa is worth getting to know.

Favorite Quote:
She couldn't tell you how she'd know when she'd finally achieved her goal; in truth, she didn't know. But what she felt with all her soul was that until she was thin, she would never be happy.

When she was thin, everything would be perfect.
I read this one from my school media center. You can buy a copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Whoooooa. I recognized the cover immediately, but I've never actually read a summary or review. What an incredibly unique premise. Thanks for the info!


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