Harrowingly Real–LETTING ANA GO–A Review

Hi there! Today’s book is an “issue” book, which means it deals frankly and specifically with an issue. LETTING ANA GO is about anorexia and how one “normal” girl can fall into the deadly disease. Truth be told, I have people close to me who suffer eating disorders–and I saw the disordered thinking in their lives that this book portrays. It is chilling book without a happy ending. But it is an important book–for anyone to read. My opinion.

Letting Ana Go
About the book:
She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.

But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt.

But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…

Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind.

My Review:
This first-person journal-style book “tracks” the anorexic journey of a normal teen girl.

The narrator is a cross-country runner. Her coach has warned the team of eating disordered athletes and insists that all runners complete a food diary to ensure that they are eating sufficient calories to maintain their physical fitness. The narrator–I’ll call her “Ana” though she remains unnamed throughout–does this. She’s committed to her team and her success as a runner. Her BFF, Jill, is a ballerina. She helps Ana to find online/mobile app resources to track her food intake better. All is going well, though it is clear that Jill is showing signs of anorexia–she’s desperate to lose weight so she can get the lead in The Nutcracker.

Meanwhile, Ana’s father is a horse’s pah-toot. He lavishes attention on Ana, and ignores or fat shames his wife who is moderately overweight. Shortly into the journal we learn that he’s been having an affair and he leaves. Ana’a distraught at the collapse of her family–and has trouble eating, but the running helps stabilize her mood. She inadvertantly loses a few pounds–no worries. In fact, that’s great as far as she’s concerned because her mom is a fat mess and NO WONDER her dad left. The disordered thinking begins.

Ana goes on a trip with Jill and her family–with Jill’s older brother Jack showing all sorts of romantic interest. Is it because she’s lost weight? Jill’s mom thinks so. Her subtle comments and flawless appearance reinforce Ana’s thoughts that being thin is better. Meanwhile, Jill convinces Ana to drop her caloric intake in solidarity–so they can both lose weight together. Dropping more weight allows Ana to run faster times than ever. She’s promoted to captian of the cross-country team. Other friends become alarmed. Vanessa must just be jealous, right? No matter that Ana is lying about her food intake and having extra workouts to burn more calories….

Jill gets her dream role in the ballet. Her dad is pushing his new, slender, beautiful girlfriend in Ana’s face. Her mother balloons, drowning her depression in ice cream and bacon. The rewards of thinness abound: love, dreams fulfilled, praise. Still doubt remains.

Ana and Jack are a tight item, but will he still love her if she gains weight? He asks her to Homecoming and his mom takes her dress shopping with Jill. The most Beautiful Dress Ever is purchased, even if it’s too tight. She only has to lose 8 more pounds for it to fit. Jack won’t look away, like her dad did, if Ana is the most beautiful girl at Homecoming. Only 8 pounds.

Yes. It progresses. It gets worse. Within months Ana is a shell of the girl who began the journal. It is a harrowing, realistic protrayal of a person so trapped in negative psychology she can’t eat anything without self-hatred and guilt. There is a good dose of the online community that celebrates “Thinspiration” and anorexia. There are real efforts to bring Ana back from the edge before she tumbles over. Jack is by her side the entire way. Her parents take her from one clinic to another. Medical bills and insurance battles ensue, but the time runs faster than Ana. Damage is done, and all that is left are broken hearts.

The journal-style is taut. It is clean and free of fluff. Ana is disturbed. She is lying to everyone, including herself, but she can’t see anything clearly as a result of the disease. Having seen disorders like this in my own life–it felt painfully true. And frightening. Because–out there somewhere–TODAY another “Ana” is falling over the edge. And that’s the scariest part. How real this all is.

Read this book.

Interested? You can find LETTING ANA GO on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably your local library.

I read a copy provided by PulseIt–an online review community. It left me stunned, and a bit nauseous. Some books do that. It’s a good thing.

If you think you may have an eating disorder PLEASE TALK TO A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. You can find help. Some online, but mostly you need face-to-face treatment.

For everyone else: Please raise awareness for eating disorders. You might save a loved one’s life.

Thanks for popping in today. Keep reading my friends!

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