Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home—her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power—and the courage to fight her own inner demons?
A wildly original approach to the issue of eating disorders, Hunger is about the struggle to find balance in a world of extremes, and uses fantastic tropes to explore a difficult topic that touches the lives of many teens.
Having heard about this book starting this summer at Romantic Times, I was very interested in reading it. Being a comic book fan from way back, I had seen an anorexic girl as Famine before, but in a novel format I was expecting it to be a lot more involved. Any of you who read back into the X-Men vault for their use of Famine would agree that it was nearly possible to not even catch the girl in question was anorexic.
In Hunger we as readers ride along in Lisabeth’s head. You hear her Thin Voice, you watch as she counts calories and equates them to time on the exercise bike. You watch as her friend goes through the very clinical steps to binging on food. This very raw view of the eating disorders makes it an uncomfortable book to read in spots. Not that this slowed me down, but it made characters in very fantastical situations very real.
Additionally, the ending of it left you with a message of hope. It is hard to state the reasoning behind this without spoiling any of the story. Just know that it does not leave you with thinking there is anything that is good about having an eating disorder. The author makes that abundantly clear in her end notes at the back of the book which include contact information to get help if you are suffering from an eating disorder.
While a being a bit raw and difficult of a story to watch unfold, it was also something I couldn’t look away from. It takes a very hard lesson to learn and puts it out there plainly, something that could very well give thoughts to those in similar situations. Even if you have not gone through their trials, it is definitely a book that gets you thinking. One of the better books I have read recently.
I would rank it around a 4 stars out of 5. It likely could be even higher, but I am still torn on the ending. Of course that just goes to show I am still thinking about it.