Purge (Review)

Book cover for "Purge" by Sarah Darer Littman.Title: Purge

Author: Sarah Darer Littman

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 228

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Source: Borrowed from the library at my school

From the cover:

Janie Ryman hates throwing up.

So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That’s what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifts in friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward.

In order to get better, Janie must talk about things she’s admitted to no one – not even herself – in a daring journey to make herself well again.

Just after the start of the Huge TBR Readathon, I got a box of new books for the library at my school. Given that there’s only about a week left of me being there (exam days are tomorrow and Monday, and my last day of work is next Friday), I went through them right away to enter them into the system. I also discovered that the normal librarian, who I’ve been covering a maternity leave for, bought a ton of books that are on my wishlist/future TBR list! So, essentially, my original list of books to read this week has mostly been thrown out the window, and I’m reading through the books that I’ve been looking out from that came in that box instead.

Purge is one of those books. I saw it a bit around the blogosphere a few months back, and thought that it might be a good book for teenagers. Some young adult fiction that deals with eating disorders is really preachy, though, so I wanted to try reading it first before purchasing it or recommending it to students. Let me tell you, having read it now – this book is definitely one to recommend!

The book is narrated from the point of view of Janie, and is told largely in present tense but with a bit of flashback-style narration thrown in the mix in the form of journal entries while she’s in the treatment centre. She’s fabulous – outspoken and voicing a lot of the thoughts that I think are very typical in teenagers with eating disorders, including that she really doesn’t think that there’s much wrong with her. You get a really good sense of things in the novel, with insight into the “motivations” behind quite a few of the girls (and boys!) who are in the treatment program, not just Janie. I think that it was really great that the reader gets a look inside the head of someone with an eating disorder instead of just seeing the situation from an outside point of view. Littman has managed to create a highly believable main character who actually manages to make you sympathize with her, even going so far as to make you understand her reasons for purging.

Unlike a lot of young adult fiction that I’ve read that deals with tough issues, Purge definitely doesn’t pull any punches. It discusses Janie’s eating disorder (and those of the other people in treatment) in detail, and includes a very good look into how and why she got there. It was a great read, hooking me right from the beginning and sucking me into the action. I would absolutely recommend this book!


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