Review: On the Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

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There are a couple of signs that a book really WOWED me.  If I finish it within a couple of days, it’s a given.  But, whenever I feel compelled to immediately write a review, well then you can be sure it’s a winner.

Clara doesn’t want for much of anything, but her life is anything but easy.  Growing up as the daughter of a famous ballet dancer has put enormous pressure on her going back as far as she can remember.  She’s always felt as if she can’t measure up to her beautiful, graceful, and excessively thin mother.  So it’s no surprise that she’s developed an eating disorder.  Maybe not the binging and purging or wasting away type, but still.  Under the guise of healthy eating, she’s obsessively concerned with everything she puts into her mouth.  And who can blame her?  She’s just following her mother’s example, after all.

When things go too far, however, she finds herself sent off to visit her estranged father for the summer.  Sure, it’s in Paris.  But it also means she has to spend the summer with her stepmother and a brother she doesn’t even know.  To make matters more difficult in her mind, he’s on the autism spectrum.  Will they be able to help each other?

There are so many important things going on in this story, things that almost any young person or adult can relate to.  There’s a nontraditional, blended family as a result of divorce.  There’s a love interest, of course.  Because what young adult story wouldn’t have one?  And then there are the more serious issues, eating disorders and children with autism spectrum  disorders.

This is the rare young adult book that I actually feel safe recommending for truly young adults.  It provides a true look at real issues faced by many young people without delving into the culture of sex, drugs, and alcohol so prominent in many of today’s books marketed toward young people.  A great story!

~Thalia

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Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

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This is a book that has been on my TBR list for a very long while.  Not sure why it sat there, unread and neglected for so long.  As with so many of us readers, surely it was simply a case of “too many books, too little time.”  Still, it caught my eye recently when I was looking for a  possible five-star book to pull me in.  Mission accomplished.

Stevie just has too much going on in her life to be a mere seventeen years old.  Her family is fractured, with mom living abroad after abandoning the family.  Dad has good intentions but finds it hard to manage after the death of Stevie’s brother, Joshua, in a tragic accident.  And Stevie?  She copes by controlling the only thing she can:  what goes into her body.  In the full throes of an eating disorder, she finds herself at a treatment center as her dad struggles to save what’s left of his family.  Rescuing herself is no easy task.  First she has to admit she has a problem.  And at the root of that problem are memories from the past that she’d rather not face.

I loved this story from the beginning until the very end.  It’s a very realistic portrayal of what goes through the mind of someone with an eating disorder.  And the author does an excellent job of giving us a cast of characters who show that there’s no “one size fits all” diagnosis or cure.  An outstanding story about a very serious issue.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Paperweight