What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?
This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.
After being sent to a psychiatric facility to face her anorexia, 16-year-old Elizabeth can see that the other residents are dangerously underweight, but she's jealous of their protruding bones and terrified of the weight she'll be forced to gain in treatment. In order to regain a healthy outlook, Elizabeth must embrace outside help and accept that anorexia "isn't a disease where you take your medicine and then wait" ("Your recovery is 100 percent up to you," she's told). Elizabeth's dealings with her parents, especially her mother, are both fascinating and frustrating; it's clear that her mother has been modeling restrictive and unhealthy eating behaviors, which have affected Elizabeth's views of food and weight. Elizabeth's relationship with her ex-boyfriend and with the brother of a fellow patient are engaging, but not driving forces in her recovery, happily. Through Elizabeth's painful uphill battle, newcomer Ballard skillfully illustrates that although unhealthy eating habits may start as a choice, an eating disorder is a complicated illness that cannot be battled without support and vigilance. Ages 12 up.