I normally read within certain genres of fiction, so I tend to challenge myself to read outside of these fictitious boundaries, to explore other literature out there. Sometimes books just grab you, and The Year I Didn’t Eat was nary impossible to put down once I had started it.
This novel is evocative, thought-provoking, touching, and at times very intense, primarily due to the nature of the subject of the book. The topic is handled in such a measured, well-considered, and lovely way, and not shied away from, instead, faced head-on, which really drew me into the story as the reader.
The story tells us about a year in the life of fourteen-year-old Max as he struggles with anorexia. It is based on the author’s own experience with anorexia, and really captures the mental and emotional struggle an individual can go through. No two people’s experiences are the same, but The Year I Didn’t Eat is heartbreakingly funny and endearing, primarily focusing on Max’s journey, but also revealing how it can influence and affect friends and family. Everyone has their own flaws, their own coping mechanisms, but in each case, everyone is just trying to do their best, having other’s best interests at the heart of each action (though sometimes they only see that after the fact)!
This is definitely geared towards a young adult audience, but that didn’t stop me from picking it up, devouring it, and loving every second of it! It doesn’t read as young, isn’t preachy, and reads as true; I have friends that are just like Max’s friends, and Max’s family, well, that was quite relatable as well.
Though never an easy topic to discuss, the way Samuel Pollen offers insights into the life of someone with anorexia but also how it is integral to understand that anorexia isn’t everything that they are, is wonderful. Max is so much more than that, the story is so much more than that, and each nuance, each aspect of daily life, well, it always managed to put a smile on my face. Relationships are not always going to be easy, be those with friends, with family members, with therapists, with strangers. But, they are worth it.
It is an amazingly brave thing, to share personal experiences with the world, even through fiction, and when a great story comes out of it, well, everyone should read it! Samuel Pollen has accomplished this with The Year I Didn’t Eat. Max is a teenager, yet wise beyond his years, incredibly human in all his shared experiences, and, funny. Don’t miss your chance to read this book!