A shocking, moving, bittersweet novel about all kinds of nourishment and the lack of it. Weight is a big issue in Carmen's life not surprising when her mother is obsessed with dieting and is determined that her daughter will be thin. But with a long list of failed diets behind her and a mountain of empty wrappers under the bed, Carmen knows the comfort of forbidden food. Swept off to Birmingham by her mum, Carmen finds her old life disappearing her home, her friends and her father. With everything to gain and nothing to lose, Carmen starts to ask: if she were thin, very thin, could it all be different?
In this disturbing story from a British novelist, a teen battles an eating disorder with only a bulimic mother as a role model. Carmen has more on her plate than she can handle with her undernourished, bone-thin mother watching every morsel that passes Carmen's lips. Her first-person narrative begins with a generous dose of humor: "At fourteen I already know this much about my own destiny. If she wanted me to be tall and skinny she should have given me a different name." Carmen and Brian who has been a father to her since she was three, when he married her mother share a mutual attraction for McDonald's and all things fried. But her mother, in perhaps her greatest act of narcissism, uproots Carmen for a "career move" selling clothing in her native Birmingham. Carmen's mother packs them up while Brian is on a business trip, and Carmen loses the only person who loves her unconditionally. As time goes on, the narrative tone grows as sober as the teen's situation, and readers, like Carmen, will quickly realize there are few people whom the heroine can trust. Passages of Carmen's descriptions of oozing cakes and melting chocolate convincingly take readers into the recesses of the teen's compulsive thoughts. But her mother's tragic demise leaves the heroine alone with her obsession, with no apparent guardian in sight. Only a list of resources for those with eating disorders offers a ray of hope at book's end. Ages 12-up.