Title: Skin and Bones
Author: Sherry Shahan
<b>**Trigger warning: eating disorders**</b>
Shahan’s Young Adult novel is about two very unlikely friends and their journey through their stay at the EDU, the Eating Disorder Unit. Bones, nicknamed so because of his anorexia and overly thin body, must room with Lard, a compulsive overeater. Then, Bones meets Alice, a young ballerina who is constantly in and out of treatment because of severe anorexia. He falls in love with her, and they begin to share tricks to avoid the calories given to them by the doctors, which threatens both of their recovery.
I enjoyed the fact that this story was about young men – most books on eating disorders focus on girls, and while the ladies of the unit were mostly overeaters as well, aside from Alice, the focus was mainly on Bones and his own struggles. It did feel real to me; the way he constantly counted calories, the obsession with exercising to get rid of what he’s eaten… even the changes his body went through made the book real. I know that they’ve modified the rules of a strict EDU, but it still felt quite believable to me.
I did love the attraction Bones felt for Alice. While some other reviewers have said that it felt fake, I think that his near-obsession with the anorexic girl both destroyed and saved him. He was being torn away from his obsession of calories and weight loss, so when he found something -or, in this case, someone- else to latch onto, he did. Alice saw that and took advantage of him, poisoning his recovery in the process. She was a very interesting character, and their dynamics were fascinating to read. I won’t reveal the plot twist, but I think that she saved his life by being so destructive.
I hesitated between three and four starts for this book because it is a bit disjointed. The story about “CRAP” that Bones finds through the hospital feels placed only to fill the gaps in the book. Sometimes, though, it seemed like the book would glitch – he’d sleep through supper without consequences (when there are clearly consequences when he skips breakfast), no one seemed to notice their disappearance on the roof or the smell of pot on Lard’s clothes when they came back… Also, like some other reviewers have pointed out, the ending was a bit abrupt as well. The last chapter really felt like it came out of nowhere. I did enjoy the recipe at the end, it made me laugh. Laughing at the end of a dramatic book like this one pretty much made me, albeit reluctantly, give the book its fourth star.
I really did enjoy this story and I would recommend it to anyone. However, it does contain (obviously) a lot of triggers, so please be careful if you are recovering from an eating disorder and are prone to be affected by triggers.
I would also like to thank Albert Whitman & Company, as well as Netgalley, for the free ARC of this book to review.