An honest, hopeful book about a boy with anorexia
I absolutely loved this important, beautiful little book.
Max loves birds, wants to be a zoologist, has just discovered geocaching, and has anorexia. The novel follows him through the realities of eating disorders -- how they feel and how they make your thoughts distort -- but also how he copes with changes in his family, new friends, a new school year. It is overall a beautiful novel, that ends with a positive note and hope for recovery.
In terms of content notes, BMIs are never mentioned. Max’s weight never mentioned, though how much is lost or gained is. I also really loved the use of letters to Ana, his anorexia — very Dear Evan Hansen — and the insert of Ana’s voice throughout the text. On a personal level, as someone who has had their brushes with disordered eating and certain feelings about food that are not normal, I found this book helped me understand some of those processes and think through it. I think a lot of other autistic people would feel the same
The prose is beautiful, and I found myself both welling up and laughing out loud at different points. The secondary characters are very well fleshed out. In terms of age suitability, The Year I Didn’t Eat sits nicely in that upper middle grade lower YA zone, so should be suitable for strong mature readers from year 6 up, and should be in all school libraries.
This is a beautiful and hopeful novel, and comes with an extremely strong recommendation from me.