Purge by Sarah Darer Littman
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub. Date: April 1st, 2009
Age Level: 15+ (For some sexual content and language, including the F-bomb.)
Synopsis from GoodReads
Janie Ryman hates throwing up. So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That's what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifting friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward.
Purge is a wonderfully crafted look into what it is like for a teen girl living with and trying to understand her bulimia. With a realistic and lovable heroine, not to mention a gripping story line that will sink it's hooks into you from the first page, this is a book I feel would be a great read for many teens.
After the last eating disorder book I read turned out to be a bit of a dud, I admit that I was worried about how I would take to not only the book itself, but to Janie as well. Turns out I found Janie to be a very witty, dynamic, and relatable character. Despite having practically nothing in common with her situation wise, I could still understand and connect with how she felt and I think a lot of teen girls will be able to as well. From the very first page, I knew I liked her and I only came to love her more as I watched her grow and develop throughout the book. Though Purge is mostly about Janie's journey to recovery and better understanding herself, I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the other characters a bit better. This is something I think could have been improved by a few more one-on-one conversations between Janie and the other patients. However, despite the fact that I didn't get to know the minor characters as much as I'd have liked, they were still well developed and great additions to the story.
Purge was a fast-paced read that at times had me close to tears and at other times, oddly enough, laughing out loud. Littman did not try to sugar coat the harsher realities of having an eating disorder; instead she used Janie's dry humor and sarcasm as a way of making things a bit lighter yet still allowing me to realize the darker truth beneath the joke, providing no false illusions. Don't get me wrong, this book had it's sad, heart-wrenching moments but I feel Littman's technique of using humor to help balance the otherwise painful realism of this story was expertly done. Another thing I really liked about this book was how through Purge's nice array of characters, I got to get a better understanding of the various reasons why different people end up developing eating disorders. Though I felt this is an aspect that could have been a bit more thoroughly explored, I also realize this book was about Janie and what she in particular was going through, not everyone else.
(Now this paragraph may be considered a bit spoilerish so some of you may want to skip over this part.) I can honestly say I was pleased with the ending Littman gave this book. Though it was indeed on the happier side, I like that it was made clear that Janie knew things would never really be easy for her after everything that had happened. I would have liked to have known a bit more about what ended up happening with some of the other patients like Callie and Tracey but, just like in real life, we don't always get to know how things are going to turn out for some people. Sometimes we just have to hope for the best.
Bottom line, I would highly recommend Purge to young adults, especially teen girls. There is so much pressure, mostly on females, from both families and society as a whole to be thin. Whether you've suffered from an eating disorder or not, I think a lot of girls can relate to Janie; I know I did. This is definitely a book I plan to re-read in the future and I'm really looking forward to Littman's next YA novel, Life, After.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010
Purge by Sarah Darer Littman
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 5/27/2010 11:00:00 AM