There are certain books that are read that are so worth reading, but once it is over, you never want to read it again. This is one of those books. The characters are great, the writing is incredible, but the story is such a rough one.
The story is told from 4 points of view- daughter Vivian who is 13, daughter Enid who is 10, dad Tate, and mother Francie. It is the story of a family trying to hold it together following the mysterious death of their son.
Tate and Francie are separated, yet they keep getting pulled back together as Francie struggles with an eating disorder. Tate has his own troubles as a college professor who has slept with his student. The two girls also float through school and have an unhealthy relationship with a next door neighbor boy who forces himself on both girls, yet the girls interpret it as being loved.
It is Francie's eating disorder that is at the center of the story as she starts to hit rock bottom. She chooses not to eat for several days bringing her to the brink of death. The family must somehow pull it all together to support their mother, even in the midst of their disfunction.
As difficult as this book is, I wound up tearing through this book. Having the story told from all four members of the family helped move the story along. Each member of the family has a unique point of view and is dealing with their own struggles. While Vivian recognizes what her father is doing, for example, Enid thinks of the college woman her father flirts with, as the donut girl.
The other intriguing part of this book is how the two girls take on the aspects of their parents. Vivian, for example, also knows how to count calories and often becomes mom for Enid when Francie is out of the picture. Enid has an unhealthy relationship to food because of her father's unhealthy relationship to food. He often sneaks food and overeats encouraging Enid to do the same. She starts gaining weight, which sets both Vivian and Francie off.
By the end, the main message is moving from an unhealthy relationship to food to eating food for nutrition, but it takes a full journey to get there. As stated, there is a lot of dysfunction within this book, so be prepared. I found the sections with the neighbor boy some of the more uncomfortable sections especially when he moves from Vivian to Enid. This is a tough book, but so good at the same time.
I gave this one 4 stars.
Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid