I picked up an ARC of Jackie Morse Kessler’s Hunger back at BEA in May. Somehow, it slipped off my radar until early in October, when I found the slim ARC on my shelf. I was looking for a light read, something quick to get me back in the groove. At only a hundred -and-some-odd pages, I figured it would be perfect.
Light read….haha! I assumed this would be a quick adventure story about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with a little gender twist. Instead, Hunger reminded me a lot of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.
Seventeen-year old Lisabeth is dealing with a lot of demons and has taken control of her life the only way she knows how- by not eating. Her mother is cold and criticizing. Her father is distant. Her best friend just accused her of having an eating disorder. And her boyfriend thinks her friend is right. But the most important person in her life is the Thin Voice. The Thin Voice demands that she not eat. It reminds her how fat she is. It has convinced her to completely reject food. One night, as she attempts to overdose on her mother’s pills, she summons the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Death assigns her to take her rightful place among the horsemen- as Famine. She then rides across the world witnessing gluttony and starvation, seeing people at their best and their worst.
This is not only a book about an eating disorder. Jackie Morse Kessler has woven an important story that deals with eating disorders, depression, family alienation, and friendship. The eating disorder has torn Lisabeth’s life apart, in more ways than she can comprehend. Seeing people across the world who are faced with starvation and gluttony Lisabeth begins to see what she is doing in her own life.
I really enjoyed Hunger. It wasn’t the light and fluffy read that I expected, but it sucked me in. Kessler paints an accurate picture of how an eating disorder affects the victim and their family and friends. The global implications, seen when Lisabeth is traveling the globe, are thought-provoking and I think will serve as a great conversation-starter. This would make a fantastic choice for literature circles. I also think it will attract reluctant readers because it isn’t too thick. It’s the perfect length.