Author: Sarah Darer Littman
How Received: publisher ARC
Janie Ryman hates throwing up. So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That’s what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifting friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward.
Littman's Purge is a surprisingly fast read for a book that handles a heavy emotional impact; this is partly because Janie's voice is so very distinct, and partly because it is, in fact, a rather small book.
That's not a bad thing - in the small span of time, it manages to present the bulimia and anorexia as the diseases that they are and how exactly they manage to worm their way into people's lives. In terms of the actual presentation of eating disorders, Purge is fantastic.
As for the actual progression of healing - well, coming from a friend who suffered from anorexia, I'd say that Janie goes through the healing process really quickly, especially compared to everybody else in the novel. But I think that's part of the point: that you can be strong and you can overcome even when nobody else around you can or when it seems like life sucks and nobody's paying attention.
So for that reason, I liked Purge. It gives a good example of the disease and it has a fairly inspirational message.
And I also like it because of Janie's voice - despite all her flaws, she's a fun character. She's got her own quirky sense of humor and ends up dropping a lot of lines that are extremely quotable.
Besides, I have to like Purge. It has my favorite final line of any book I've ever read.
Because once you've faced down a plate of cucumbers and won, anything is possible.
Overall Rating & Final Comments: 7/10. A solid piece of fiction that does a good job at capturing eating disorders; however, the character development is a bit rushed and takes away a bit from the story.
Littman's Purge or Anderson's Wintergirls?: You can ask me to pick between Wintergirls and any other novel on eating disorders and I'll always pick Wintergirls. It's beautifully written and captures the struggle with eating disorders so brilliantly. (And since it saved my best friend's life, I'm always biased.)