Monday, March 24, 2008

Skinny, by Ibi Kaslik

When I was but a teenager, I hate to tell you how many books I read about girls with eating disorders. A lot of these books followed the same formula - an ever so slightly chubby adolescent from an upstanding family has a few pressures and eventually almost dies from anorexia or bulimia. What's interesting is that a lot of these books literally work as How-To books for eating disorders, describing in detail how to get your own! I know I certainly picked up a few bad habits myself from those books.

Skinny is a new book by Canadian Ibi Kaslik, who, not surprisingly, had an eating disorder herself. The main characters in the book are Gizelle and her sister Holly. Gizelle's had to drop out of medical school due to her illness, and Holly, in contrast, is an athlete. Chapters switch the between the perspectives of each girl, with Gizelle's beginning with snippets from a medical text, giving an eerie, dry tone to the emotional story.

Skinny differs from those "anorexic books" of my youth in that, instead of focusing on the obsessive behaviors of the anorexic, Kaslik writes about the obsessive thoughts of her main character. In fact, there is only one scene in the book that describes (briefly) how Gizelle throws up her dinner. Seriously, if you've read any of these books (why can't I remember a single title?) I'm sure you'll agree that this is quite unusual. As I recall, so many of them go into absolutely pornographic detail in how to starve yourself and/or how to most efficiently become a bulimic - as well, of course, of how to hide it from your parents.

Skinny feels much less like a book from the Eating Disorder Genre and more like a really great book about a girl who has an eating disorder. Kaslik's writing is poetic and I think she really challenges the YA description. It's a book that would hold appeal for a wide range of readers. I couldn't put it down.

26 comments:

Becky K said...

Hi, I found your blog from the People Reading blog in SF. I love how your blog is devoted to just books and nothing else. My blog is a little more mixed use, so I tend to write about my life while throwing in book reviews as I finish things.

But I wanted to tell you how impressed I am by your blog and the books you have written about. I put The Gathering on hold after reading your review of the other Enright book (which I couldn't find at my library; surprising, they usually have almost everything.)

Anyhow, sorry to hijack your blog here, but I wanted to write something. I'll check back here for sure!

Becky K said...

Sorry, me again, but I love Margaret Atwood. She came to Salt Lake City a few years ago and my sister and I went to see her. She read a section out of Oryx & Crake and then allowed people to come up and get their book signed. She was so cool! I love her writing. My favorite by her is Alias Grace. I love the quilt references and how the truth, like quilting, is all in the shading and what angle you look at it. Anyhow, I'll stop writing all over your blog now.

Special K said...

Feel free to comment all you like, Becky - I love it when new visitors find their way to my site.

Oddly, even though I'm crazy about M. Atwood, I didn't love Alias Grace, I should revisit it, though. I find that my tastes change after time.

Ross&Jenny said...

It sounds like a really goos book. You've reviewed it really well too.

Anonymous said...

HI, i have actually read this book and i just loved it!

Your review is great and gives a fantastic impression of the book.

Anonymous said...

hey good review-- i'm in 8 grade and i couldnt finish the book because it was too grusome. did giselle die at the end??

Special K said...

Did she die? Oh dear - I hate to give away the ending!

Ash said...

hey i just finished the book
its so confusing
im really sorry for spoilers
but does Giselle die?
or holly

Anonymous said...

UM.... I'm in 8th grade, and when I read it I got the jist that Giselle died because she had pneumonia and her body was too weak so when she tried to pick her head up form her bed she had a massive headrush (Like, REALLY MASSIVE) and died, and then Holly went out of control and killed herself at the graveyard because of her sister's death. Am I wrong? Please tell me if I am. ;)

Anonymous said...

Im in ninth grade and when i read this i had no clue what i was getting into it is a good book but some of the stuff is not needed. and in the end what happen I get that Giselle died but what about holly?

Anonymous said...

Hey Spesh Kay,
I read skinny and i thought that it was a bit gruesome at some parts but i enjoyed the read. I am one of those people who cant be bothered to read books that i know the ending of. Well. this happened to me with skinny. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sol and Giselle happily ever after, Holly and Marco happily ever after. You know. The usual deal. But looking at the comments that some other people have sent you- it looks like giselle and holly died! So of course i ran to my bookcase and scanned it through till i found skinny and read the last pages desperately. Ah! so confusing. Please tell me if they do. I am desperately writing this as fast as my fingers will type. I loved your review and really need to know what happened to who.
Thanks
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Giselle does die but Holly is attempting suicide. It is unclear though because the last few paragraphs seem to be devoted to Holly going crazy and brutally hurting herself (and trying to commit suicide). It basically does hint that she is successful at her suicide attempt but it is not 100% confirmed.

Anonymous said...

okay. i am in 6 grade and i was confused. Who died at the end?

xyz71792 said...

Okay, I am really confused. I have to write a book report and I don't know if I should say that Giselle and Holly both die or just Giselle

Cathleen said...

So i reread the last few chapters. So Giselle tried to kill herself on the roof top but Sol and Holly stopped her. She had pneumonia. I'm pretty sure she died. Her voice came in to say "goodbye" Giselle was sure that she could never get away from her. Giselle also says 'so this is what its like...to die." that last paragraoh was also very discriptive and it sounds like her body is literally falling apart. Then in Holly's chapter it sounds like she is discibing a graveyard scene, she says she sees Giselle and a child sized coffin, before Giselle disappers. They also give a date for a tombstone 1968-1981, which makes whoever died 13 or 14. the only person that could be is Holly considering she's in 8th grade. Even though she makes it sound as if she is running away at the very end of the novel.

Thats just what I can come up with. I finished the book earlier today and was completly confused I had to read the last few pages like 7 times. I hoped I helped clear up something for someone though.

kylie q said...

Okay i am in eighth grade and i just started the book. and it has been a little confuzzling but good is this a book for a teenager like me??

Anonymous said...

i just finished the book and am confused. so giselle died at the end, right!?! did holly die or did she just try to?!? also, great summary!!!

Anonymous said...

i did not finish the book but im so confused at reading a bunch of different comments. well time to make up something for my book report. my teacher give me bad grades even if i did good and im a high honors student. whatever schools almost over.

Anonymous said...

hi i read this book and i didnt like it

Anonymous said...

I am in seventh grade i read this book and found it very confusing!! i did not like this book at all. it was very inappropriate maybe it shouldn't be in the teen section.... I was so confused my mom had to read it to me and she was reading and skipped over a part and i asked why she said one of the girls was looking at porn? then later holly in the bathtub,if you read the book you know what im talking about. i am staying away from Ibi Kaslik's books. This book did not say anything about the "detail" on the back. :(


Thank you!!
-Anonymous

Anonymous said...

I'm getting this to read for Christmas so I hope it's good

Anonymous said...

it's not good.

Anonymous said...

I thought this book was pretty good, I could relate to it. Btw, did Giselle have epilepsy and did Holly die?

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