Author: J.J. Johnson
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Format: egalley via Edelweiss
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
My Review (originally posted at Read, Run, Ramble):
Definition of bulimarexia: an eating disorder marked by an alternation between abnormal craving for and aversion to food.
Definition of believarexia: a pervasive alternation between craving for and aversion to belief in oneself.
*Both definitions obtained from the author’s website for the book.
Johnson, using her own journals from a previous hospitalization for an eating disorder, offers a raw look at life while battling eat disorders while under psychiatric care.
Believarexic paints a clear picture of the food/life dynamic – how much of life really does revolve around food and what that does to someone who battles with one or more eating disorders.
Treatment and disease are not glamourized or glossed over here, but the author also doesn’t dwell on gloom and doom. Johnson, through her own experiences, shows readers that it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows, but that there are some definite silver linings.
There were no magic tricks or pills to making Jennifer, the main character, suddenly healthy and/or cured. This story is realistic and it doesn’t paint any delusional pictures. Jennifer does indeed ask for help on her own in the beginning, but she struggles just like anyone would when she realizes that treatment is going to be work and it is going to suck. She’s scared, angry, and confused. She even wants to back out at certain points feeling like she can’t do it or that she’s putting her family through something they do not deserve.
This book is solely about Jennifer’s time in hospitalization for her disease. While some aspects of her personal and family life are discussed throughout the book, there is never a lot of time spent diagnosing why or how Jennifer became bulimarexic. I quite loved this approach because here’s the deal: there are so many people with so many struggles in life that offering just one way or reason someone began struggling with the disease only gives others who struggle a way to compare their struggle and their disease to that which they are reading. The author is very clear that these comparisons only make matters worse. She stays away from listing specific weights and sizes and she doesn’t focus on specifics of or details surrounding Jennifer’s arrival at the center. This book is about understanding that there are so many issues and events in life that lead us down the paths we travel, but everyone can and should get the help they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life on their terms. This isn’t about being the sickest or having the most disorders or beating anyone else, it is about focusing on YOU. Yes, Jennifer’s family has problems, but her therapists often ask her to determine how she can look at or deal with things differently in order to relinquish the control those situations have over her.
Johnson includes resources for those who might be reading and need help themselves. This isn’t just a novel written for fun or closure. Johnson wants to help. She wants others out there suffering to know there are better ways to live. That they too can move forward. She’s built an entire website around the book that includes definitions, resources, Chuck’s mixtapes (SWEET), and so much more. Check it out at www.believarexic.com.
This book is truly a gem. One that hope many read and learn from.
I was provided with an ARC of this book by the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.