Afternoon all! Today’s offering Skin and Bones by Sherry Shahan is due for publication in March 2014, so this review will be based on an eARC obtained from the publisher via NetGalley – thanks!
Skin and Bones follows the story of Jack (aka Bones) as he spends some time in a hospital inpatient program designed for teens with eating disorders. Ever since a shop assistant handed Bones a pair of “husky” jeans to try on, he has had a troubling relationship with food. Bones enters the program obviously in need of a few good hot meals and some probing therapy and finds himself sharing a room with Lard, a compulsive overeater who is learning the cooking trade. While in the program Bones meets Alice, a ballet dancer and fellow sufferer of anorexia – although from Alice’s point of view, she glories in it rather than suffering. The book takes us on Bones’ journey of inner discovery, with some comic relief on the way, towards his eventual return to the outside world.
* you can’t go past a novel set in any kind of pyschiatric facility (surely there is a word for this sort of compulsion?)
* you have ever wondered how you could repurpose an idle dishwasher for the task of low-fat cooking
* you have ever been accidentally (or deliberately) insulted by an unthinking shop assistant/relative/friend/passerby and considered changing your entire lifestyle as a result
* you have any kind of interest in eating disorders, how they manifest, and how one might go about addressing them
Skin and Bones was an enjoyable and reasonably engaging read from my point of view. I happen to have the (as yet) unnamed compulsion of attempting to read any and all novels set in psychiatric facilities that I can lay hands upon. From that perspective, this book is pretty formulaic. You have the cast of slightly odd but loveable patients, the ward staff who range from motherly to smothering, and the head therapist who is inevitably considered inept and patronising by all his patients. The point of difference for this book however is the particular disorders with which it concerns itself.
As noted at the end of the book, eating disorders are highly prevalent among young people and on the rise among young men in particular. This novel then could really hit a chord with teen readers who have experienced, or know someone who is experiencing, issues with food and/or body image. Having not a great deal of prior knowledge in this field, the wily tricks that Bones and Alice used to assist them in their constant pursuit of weight loss were quite mind-boggling, and a real eye-opener into the complexity of this disease. Also, given the relatively small amount of attention given in the media to males who are battling with negative perceptions of body image, this book could have great value in shining some light on how our crazy modern world has adversely affected young men.
Overall I found this to be an interesting addition to the genre, but not one that particularly stood out from the crowd. For those YA readers who are into a bit of realism in their reading, this book will scratch an itch and hopefully allow readers to gain some new insights into the spectre of mental illness and eating disorders.
Just out of interest, for those thinking of joining the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge for 2014, Skin and Bones could potentially be an ideal choice for category five (a book with something that comes in pairs in the title), or category seven (a book with something unsightly in the title). Hint, hint!
Also, just a reminder that the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza is still running for another week – click here to enter my giveaway and see the list of other participating blogs!
Until next time,