Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Stick Figure - Lori Gottlieb
This is a non-fiction journal of an eleven year old girl with anorexia. It is not broken down into individual entries like many diary books are, though, and reads really more like a novel. I found it to be fascinating and frightening because the little girl in this novel is SO young, and yet she already has a clear idea of the importance of women being thin in our culture. Most of the other anorexia stories I've read have been about older girls, and while I am still disturbed and distressed by anorexia in older girls, I'm not as surprised by it. My niece is eleven, and it sort of threw me for a loop that girls her age, little girls, are thinking the kinds of things Lori does.
However, from reading the book, it is clear that this little girl did not become so hyper aware of the importance of being thin just by reading magazines or watching TV. There were clearly family dynamics that were very unhealthy playing into this child's self image. She was trying to gain a little control and be who she thought she needed to be to get love. Food was where she could do that. I sometimes see students trying to gain control in whatever small way they can when they feel like things are spiraling away from them - they won't do their homework, they won't participate in class, whatever. This is the same, but its consequences are different, and for Lori they nearly killed her. At eleven years old she had to be in a full time treatment facility and nearly got to the point where she was on a feeding tube.
I thought this book was very powerful, but I wish it had had something more at the end that talked about how she had gone on to overcome the situation. The author found a publisher for these journals when she was in her thirties, and she did do a very short epilogue, but she really kept herself distanced from the issues in the book and that was disappointing.
Available at the WOMS library.