Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Skin and Bones

Skin and Bones
Skin and Bones by Sherry Shahan
March 1, 2014
Albert Whitman Teen
240 pages
Genre: Mature Young Adult Contemporary
(contains: eating disorders, abuse, drugs, strong language and sexual references)
Source: ARC from publisher for Honest review
Book Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Jack, nicknamed "Bones," won't eat. His roommate in the eating disorder ward has the opposite problem and proudly goes by the nickname "Lard." They become friends despite Bones's initial reluctance. When Bones meets Alice, a dangerously thin dancer who loves to break the rules, he lets his guard down even more. Soon Bones is so obsessed with Alice that he's willing to risk everything-even his recovery.

My Review:

Skin and Bones takes place in an eating disorders ward in a hospital. Though this is told in third person, it is the story and thoughts of Jack, aka Bones, I loved that the author took on the subject of eating disorders, but from a male perspective. And I loved that his voice, his struggles, felt authentic. Bones is the kind of character that is fascinating to get to know, and watching his evolution throughout the novel was engaging, heart-breaking, awkward, and hopeful. He was a strong representation of a teenaged boy and someone struggling with anorexia. As a clinical dietitian, I appreciated the thought and perspective the author put into this tale of eating disorders, particularly the insight of a male anorexic.

Along with Bones, we get an interesting cast of characters from the eating disorder ward, along with some of their family members. The author did a great job demonstrating the different contributing factors to an eating disorder, as well as how individuals and families are affected by it or affect each other. Their stories are layered and each unique to the other, yet through those uniquenesses there is also common ground. Even amongst those with similar struggles, there can be cruelty, but also understanding and humor. I liked that the author brought in varying perspectives and outcomes.

The writing style was choppy and jumpy at times, leaving something to be desired, not allowing me to completely love this story. There was also more sexual referencing than I felt was necessary. I liked the realistic approach to eating disorders and the uniqueness of the characters, but the execution didn't quite hit the mark for me to make it a 5 Star read. But I still enjoyed it. 

Bottom-line: Skin and Bones is a thoughtful book approaching eating disorders with a great male perspective. It is well-researched and provides wonderful perspective on these characters' struggles. While the subject matter can be very heavy at times, the author infuses quirkiness and humor, allowing the characters to be more than just their disorders. The ending is both realistic and hopeful, and well thought out. Due to the drug and sexual references, I would not recommend this to young teens.

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