Saturday, March 6, 2010

SHRINK by Heather Morrall

Eloise Meehan knows she needs help, but finding just the right person to help is becoming a problem.  She is dealing with the accidental death of her brother, the suicide death of her mother, living with her chronically depressed father, and her own eating disorder.  Her family doctor referred her to a therapist, but things aren't going well.

Mars bars are Eloise's favorites for bingeing.  She and her friends are preparing for exams.  They know their future depends on passing the tests, but their focus is more on the end of year party than on study sessions.  They've been trying to distract Eloise with shopping for the perfect outfit for the party.  They don't seem to see that she has a weight problem.  Eloise is sure that people notice how fat she is, and she constantly dreams of her ideal weight. 

Visits to the therapist have her obsessing more and more about her weight.  At the hospital she sees other girls admitted there as in-patients.  She looks at their skeletal frames and protruding bones and envies them.  Her weight fluctuates from a high of 46kg to a record low of 39.1kg, and the more she sees these girls, the more she wants to be like them. 

As the visits to the therapist continue, it is obvious they are not connecting.  When the therapist wants to discuss weight issues, Eloise deflects her, and any attempts to deal with her family tragedy stalls out as well.  Eloise returns to her family doctor in search of someone else.  It seems to be a Catch-22 for Eloise.  She knows she has a problem, but her overwhelming desire to be thin prevents her from accepting help.

(Since SHRINK was written by an author from the UK, I found myself needing to seek help converting kgs to pounds so I could make sense of Eloise's struggles. I'll provide translation here for any future readers.
46kgs = 101 lbs. and 39.1kgs = 86 lbs.)

SHRINK by Heather Morrall takes readers through a year in the life of 16 year old Eloise.  With a life filled with the pressure to succeed at school while at the same time dealing with two tragic deaths and a father with problems of his own, there is no shortage of issues for readers to relate to.  The issue of anorexia is a constant plot element and will have readers wondering if it is a result of Eloise's life tragedies or a legitimate problem of its own.

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