Noah is just trying to make it through seventh grade. The girls are confusing, the homework is boring, and even his friends are starting to bug him. Not to mention that his older sister, Emma, has been acting pretty strange, even though Noah thought she’d been doing better ever since the Thing They Don’t Talk About. The only place he really feels at peace is in art class, with a block of clay in his hands. As it becomes clear through Emma’s ever-stricter food rules and regulations that she’s not really doing better at all, the normal seventh-grade year Noah was hoping for begins to seem pretty unattainable. In an affecting and realistic novel with bright spots of humor, Jo Knowles captures the complexities of navigating middle school while feeling helpless in the face of a family crisis.
The quotidian struggles of middle school unrequited crushes, stinky lockers, boring academics pale in comparison to the difficulties at seventh-grader Noah Morin's home, where his older sister, Emma, is wasting away by refusing to eat. Knowles (See You at Harry's) sensitively explores the pain of having a sibling with an eating disorder, including the exhaustion caused by constant worry, the lack of attention for the healthy child, and the tension at every meal as the family tries to accommodate Emma's dietary whims while closely monitoring how much she consumes. The story seesaws, sometimes uneasily, between some of the lighter situations that Noah is dealing with crushes, a hairless therapy cat that roams the school hallways killing mice, a farting dog, etc. and the dire one involving Emma. Even so, the relative lack of eating disorder stories told from a male point of view (especially for middle graders) makes this a welcome addition to the canon and a realistic look at how one person's severe illness can adversely affect everyone around them. Ages 10 14.
It was a really good book!
I really enjoyed this book, it had a really nice message that everything can be messed and and a work in progress, but it will be okay in the end. I really enjoyed the unexpected twists and the characters have grown on me.
I can honestly say it made me feel a whirlwind of emotions and I felt like I was on this long journey with Noah. And I like to imagine that after this, Emma returns happy and safe, things won’t be the same, but they can get better. At least that is my personal preference for a happy ending, everyone thinks of their own interpretation and ending, but that’s mine. I can recommend this book if you are just wanting to read about someone putting up a facade.
I hope that you found this helpful and that you will consider reading this wonderful story!