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Authors explore the agony and pain of eating disorders among teens

04/17/2013 9:21 AM

04/17/2013 11:39 AM

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million U.S. women and 10 million U.S. men will suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their lives, and more than half a million teens struggle with disordered eating.

Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices. Many individuals and families are left feeling helpless, hopeless, frightened, and alone. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, please contact your family physician, or call NEDA at 800-931-2237. Help is available.

Body Drama

by Nancy Amanda Redd

Penguin Books, 2008

For ages: 14 and up

Author Nancy Redd is a Harvard graduate who also won the swimsuit portion of the 2004 Miss America pageant. She must be brimming with self-confidence, right? Wrong! This realization set her on a mission to show young women that bodies come in all sizes and shapes, and that those differences are both normal and beautiful. Filled with pictures, this book is a visual catalog addressing topics including sweat, acne, stretch marks, cellulite, periods, bad breath, being overweight and desperately wanting plastic surgery -- all in honest language, backed up by medical facts.

In the book's foreword, Dr. Angela Diaz writes, "By proudly presenting what real women actually look like and what women's bodies naturally go through, Body Drama takes a major stride toward eradicating the dislike and embarrassment that women have learned to feel about their bodies."

Butter

by Erin Jade Lange

Bloomsbury, 2012

For ages: 16 and up

Butter is tired of being bullied, tired of being fat, tired of being alive. So, he decides to go out with a bang by literally eating himself to death and broadcasting the show live on the Internet. He chooses a date near graduation and lets the news loose on the Web. As it begins to spread, Butter finds himself gaining attention and popularity for the first time as his schoolmates rush to give their opinions on the situation. Butter realizes he has created a strange situation --if he doesn't go through with his suicide plan, he'll lose all his newfound friends. But, if he does go through with it, he'll be dead.

Trapped in a no-win situation and surrounded by bullies who care about nothing but a sensationalized event that's different and exciting, Butter struggles to find his own way ... and his own worth.

I've Got This Friend Who...

Edited by Anna Radev

Hazelden, 2007

For ages: 11 and up

Six teens of various ages discuss issues including alcohol, tobacco, drugs, eating disorders, self-harm and other risky behaviors. Written in an interview style, and interspersed with easy-to-read and informative charts and pictures, this book asks teens to get involved in the conversation and find ways to avoid getting caught up in negative behaviors. The book also includes numerous links to Internet references and places to find additional information.

Nothing

by Robin Friedman

Flux, 2008

For ages: 12 and up

Parker knows he's special. He knows because everyone in his life tells him every day. The pressure to get good grades, get into college, find a girlfriend, excel at sports ... it all becomes too much and Parker begins to take control of his life by binging and purging. It's a secret he is ashamed of and goes to great lengths to hide, even though it means sacrificing the few good things in his life.

Told through chapters that alternate between Parker's point of view and his younger sister Danielle's poems, Nothing shines a light on male bulimia, which often goes undetected. In reality, 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder is male, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Skin

by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

McElderry Books, 2007

For ages: 12 and up

Fourteen-year-old Donnie is struggling to handle being an outcast at school and at home. His parents argue constantly and are splitting up, while his older sister Karen copes by eating less and less every day. Despite Donnie's desperate attempts to impact the world around him, nothing reaches Karen. This powerful story covers a year that changes Donnie's family forever and teaches it that every member of the family matters more than petty arguing or lies intended to ease the sting of reality.

Tyranny

by Leslie Fairfield

Tundra Books, 2009

For ages: 10 and up

In this unique graphic novel, Anna struggles with an eating disorder that she nicknames "Tyranny" and imagines as a menacing figure that fills her mind with self-doubt and forces her to harm her body. The book's stark and powerful black-and-white drawings give life to the demon that haunts Anna's world. Mired in hopeless misery, Anna struggles to overcome her fears and take control of her own life.

Wasted

by Marya Hornbacher

Harper, 2006

For ages: 16 and up

This autobiographical look at Marya Hornbacher's struggles with both anorexia and bulimia follows her from a young child through adulthood, and never wavers from the unflinching truth of what it's like to have an eating disorder. Hornbacher recounts her binges, her stays in mental institutions, her bouts with drugs and alcohol, and a final, horrifying experience that very nearly brings her to death. This story is emotional and vivid; it both terrifies and fascinates, but also gives hope for finding a way out of the madness and confusion that have such a grip on her life.

Wintergirls

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Viking Juvenile, 2009

For ages: 12 and up

Wintergirls focuses on a girl named Lia who is struggling with anorexia, cutting, depression, divorce ... and then her ex-best friend dies because of battles with her own issues. This book is entrancing and captivating. It is incredibly realistic, and will fill the reader with sympathy and heartbreak. The author uses text in unique ways to really underscore Lia's confusion, with words off-center or struck out to indicate her conflicting moods. When Lia hurts herself badly and passes out, the text stops in mid-sentence, followed by two blank, white pages. It's a staggeringly visual way to show Lia's emptiness and absence from her own story, and her journey back to being truly present again in her own life.

Wendy Dunn is a teen programming librarian at the Central Branch of the Fort Worth Library

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