Insatiable: The Compelling Story of Four Teens, Food and Its Powerby Eve Eliot
In the pages of Insatiable you will meet: Samantha, the ice princess who resists eating to demonstrate her worth to others and to herself. She cuts herself to release and relieve her intense emotional turmoil. Hannah, the lost soul who expresses her self-disgust by throwing up the enormous quantities of food she eats when she is alone. Jessica, the rebel who starves herself in order to cope with the horror of her father's death from AIDS, and the pain of having to mother her six-year-old brother. Phoebe, the dreamer, who is the smartest, fattest girl in school. While she feels more pain as she grows ever fatter, the only time happiness or relief seems within reach is when she's eating.
As you read about these girls, you will feel their pain, their fears and their courage. Real-life drama and heart-rendering strife will envelop you in this forceful and vibrant novel. Interwoven within the stories however, are also real and important facts about anorexia and bulimia that expose the horrific dangers of eating disorders.
- Health Communications, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.67(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
'til something strikes you and you ring."
Samantha's heart nearly stopped as she realized what Brian was actually telling her. Because there were other students all around them, milling past carrying books and backpacks, she forced herself to breathe evenly, look normal, perfect as always. This is what was expected of her, the blondest cheerleader with the cutest boyfriend, the prettiest girl at Maple Ridge High.
Brian sat with one ankle resting on his knee, leaning forward to allow her to hear him, speaking in low tones so nobody else could. He had one hand on his knee, one on his ankle. Samantha focused on the pattern of prominent blue veins in his big square hands, on his long fingers, on the sole of his work boot, the pebbles and twigs that had become embedded in the grooved sole, on anything but his words.
A midriff appeared directly in front of Samantha. The midriff was encased in a tight white T-shirt. It belonged to Polly Milkins, the only girl in school whose beauty Samantha feared.
"Hi, Sam," said Polly. "Will I see you at cheerleading practice later?"
"Sure," replied Samantha, turning to look up and organizing her face into its most radiant smile.
"Hi, Brian," said Polly, giggling a little. This was the effect Brian had on girls everywhere, this excitement that usually made them giggle.
"Hi, Polly." Brian looked at Polly briefly, then cleared his throat and uncrossed his legs. A brief, awkward silence ensued.
"Wellùokay. Later," Polly said finally.
At the same time as Polly turned to walk across the athletic field toward the gym, Brian leaned back, far away from Samantha. It seemed, at that moment, as though Brian had pulled far, far away, beyond the distance spanned by the parking lot, beyond the new gym with its gleaming windows, beyond the end of the road to where the street disappeared into the entrance to the bird sanctuary, beyond her reach entirely. He looked down at his feet. He dug the toe of one work boot into the ground, smashing the grass into liquid green sludge.
In the village of Leeswood, thirty-five miles to the west, Hannah Bonanti sat on her bed reading Baking for Health and listening to her favorite band, Dracula Jones. They were an upstate band who'd played at a club in New York City on a night when Hannah's friends, Tanya and Kaneesha had taken her out for her sixteenth birthday. Their rhythmic guitars pounded as Hannah read about corn muffin recipes. Baking was a tradition among the women in Hannah's family. Hannah's mother had died two years before and whenever Hannah felt lonely, sad, or anxious, reading this book, which had been her mom's, helped connect her with her mother.
It was Friday, and the spring term was coming to an end (finally). She had spent the afternoon hanging out with her friends, Kaneesha and Tanya. They had talked about going to see the new Tom Cruise movie at the mall and Hannah, who loved to bake, was trying to imagine corn muffins made with whole-wheat flour.
Hannah wore her favorite jeans and a tank top that matched her gray eyes. She had painted her nails bright, iridescent green. Toenails, also green, peeked out of the open toes of her new black wedgies. It was 7:35. Where were they? Now that Kaneesha had her regular license, she was going to pick Hannah up in her dad's new black Chrysler Sebring.
Tanya and Kaneesha lived alone with their dad, too. Hannah felt comforted that she wasn't the only girl she knew in that situation. Kaneesha's mother hadn't died though; she had taken off with Kaneesha's uncle.
Kaneesha had made Hannah feel welcome from the first day they'd met in Spanish class. Kaneesha had said, "Buenas dias, me gusta tu tatuaje." She had said to Hannah, "Hi, I love your tattoo," completely in Spanish, and their friendship had grown from then on. Hannah loved Kaneesha's sense of fun, her beautiful, chocolate skin, her long, graceful, muscular arms and the curly lashes that framed her dark, upward-slanting eyes. Tanya was Kaneesha's older sister.
But where were they? It was 7:45 already, and the movie started at 8:10.
Sixty-six miles east of where Hannah waited for her friends, Jessica Blaine stood in front of her locker looking at her watch. The watch had a wide red plastic strap and a big round face with glow in the dark yellow numerals, which Jessica's little brother, Matthew, had given her. Two girls in Jessica's math class came up to her and said, "Only you could wear red plaid leggings with a striped T-shirt. How do you do it? How do you keep your stomach so flat? I think we hate you, Jess!"
Later, Jessica Blaine sat on a stool in her green kitchen, talking to Phoebe McIntyre on the phone. Though only sixteen, Jessica's voice had a gravelly quality usually associated with middle-aged women who have smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for twenty years. Though Jessica had smoked Marlboros since the age of twelve, even as a baby her voice had sounded harsh.
Tall, pale and very thin, she sat with her long brown hair piled on top of her head and her legs crossed, looking out the window at her brother Matthew's swing set. Matthew rode his new red tricycle in circles around the large kitchen. Beside her, the glass-fronted cabinets held her mother's collection of knickknacks, primarily angels, along with the useful equipment of their everyday life.
Jessica had lately begun to attract the attention of her teachers because of her increasingly emaciated appearance. She was skipping English class because it was on the second floor, and she couldn't climb stairs anymore without feeling dizzy. She appreciated the fact that she lived in a ranch house.
Other girls at school envied her. So many of them came up to her in the hall and told her how great she looked, asking how she stayed so thin. Phoebe had just asked her this, in fact.
"Try cutting out the fat," Jessica answered. "You can still eat stuff, but cut the fat way down and you'll get thin, you'll see." She jumped off the stool and walked into the hall to admire herself in the mirror.
"Well, what about pizza?" asked Phoebe, in a pouting tone. "Can't I have that?"
"No," said Jessica, looking at herself from the side. She smoothed her palm over her flat stomach, gazed with satisfaction at the sharp angle of her jaw line and then at the narrowness of her thighs in their plaid leggings.
"My dad says I need therapy," said Phoebe. "He says I have hand-to-mouth disease."
"Whatever," said Jessica, turning to look at herself from the other side. Her Limp Bizkit CD reversed itself. Her admiration for herself swelled. She could feel that familiar flow of self-satisfaction spreading from her heart in radiating arcs of warmth.
"You can't attract a boy like Daryl if you're going to eat pizza," said Jessica sternly.
"But I can't even imagine life without pizza," wailed Phoebe.
"It's a trade-off," said Jessica. One thing everyone knew about Jessicaùbesides how thin she wasùshe was blunt.
Phoebe sighed. "I can't stand the idea of not eating things I like," she said. She felt hopeless, helpless and alone.
Phoebe looked despairingly at the posters of Audrey Hepburn, which covered the walls of her room and sighed. She felt there was nothing special about herself; Jessica had everything. Jessica was not only gorgeous and a cheerleader, she was skinny, and an artist, too. Jessica's room was filled with fashion drawings she had done and the flowing lines and skillful sketching in the colored-pencil clothing showed talent. She had designed entire ensembles, including accessories, hair, shoes, handbags and jewelry, and her style combined a feel for medieval fashion with "trekky," space-age accents, which Phoebe ached to be able to wear herself.
Today, Jessica wore a silver-lamT laced bustier she had made herself, paired with black leggings and chunky silver platforms.
"You have to try harder, Phoeb," said Jessica, as she walked down the hall to her bedroom. She hunched up her shoulder to press it against the white phone so that she could use both hands to take a stack of magazines off a high shelf.
"How do you not eat when you're so hungry you could kill?" asked Phoebe.
"I tell myself that hunger isn't as horrible as the fat is," said Jessica. "I tell myself how happy I'll feel when I wake up tomorrow morning feeling clean and thin."
She sat down on her white bedspread appliqued with little Harley-Davidsons, which she had made herself, turning the pages of magazines bearing photos of tall young women as thin as she. They were wearing impractical clothes in glamorous settings. One girl wore a long yellow chiffon skirt over a teal bikini. She stood on a wide beach, her tan glorious and golden, beneath a palm tree whose leaves were ruffled by a Caribbean breeze. Long-legged, not much older than Jessica, the model looked like an exotic flower. Jessica felt herself to be exotic also. She didn't have needs like other people. She could refuse food. She was proud of this. She could say no to tacos and carrots and fried-chicken dinners.
"I tell myself how special I am," said Jessica. "I tell myself I'm different because I can be hungry and still not eat."
Hannah Bonanti dialed Kaneesha's number again at 8:30, then again at 8:45. She sat locked in her peaches-and-cream-colored bedroom, surrounded by the remains of her most recent binge. Mars bars wrappers, empty pint cartons of Edy's triple-chocolate ice cream, a few empty bags of Chips Ahoy cookies, only smudges of chocolate and a few crumbs left inside, two crumpled empty bags of baked Lay's potato chips and a jar with Mr. Peanut on it that had contained cashew nuts.
She had eaten continually and fast for forty-five minutes, and only when her stomach was so bloated that it hurt was she able to stop. She felt so hungry, but no matter how many pieces of fried chicken or jars of peanut butter Hannah stuffed into herself, she did not feel satisfied or settled or safe, but only more disgusted. She felt like dying, or throwing up. Just as she was planning to do so though, her father came home.
Tony Bonanti, who had a clothing-manufacturing company in New York City, worked long hours and often came home as late as 9:00.
"Weren't you going out with Kaneesha and Tanya tonight, sweetheart?" he said, surprised to see her in her room as he walked past it. He was a silver-haired man, with a bouncy, athletic walk.
"I got stood up," said Hannah dejectedly.
"Kaneesha wouldn't do that," said her father, unknotting his tie with his left hand as he sat on her bed to put his arm around her shoulder.
"Well, she did it," said Hannah.
Hannah leaned against her dad and smelled his familiar scent of Old Spice and cigars. It was this scent she remembered most vividly the day her mother had gotten the results of her breast biopsy. The three of them had been in the kitchen. When her mother had put down the phone, her stricken look had told them everything, and her father had held her mother, and they'd stood in the kitchen, all three of them, swaying together as the tears and fears welled up and finally flowed.
Hannah pulled herself upright and felt for the four gold studs she wore on her left ear, reassuring herself that they were still there. How could they do this to me? thought Hannah angrily.
"What do you think has happened?" asked her father, turning toward her.
Hannah could see the worry in his gray eyes. "They forgot me, I guess."
"They didn't forget you," he said. "They probably just misunderstood the time."
Hannah's jeans felt uncomfortably tight. She suddenly felt tears springing out of her eyes. They rolled down her cheeks, streaking her blusher.
"Oh, Hann," said her father, as he held her.
Gripping the tweezers tightly in her right hand, Samantha pressed their sharp points into the center of her left forearm. She flinched when the metallic edges cut through her skin to the soft flesh beneath and blood oozed to the surface. At first, there was no pain, only a kind of sighing relief, and, when the pain did come, she was soothed by it, by the sense of warmth that it brought. The pain is on the outside now, she said to herself, and I'm alive. The pain is out of me, and I'm going to be all right. It made her forget her hunger, too. She scraped away at the skin of her tan arm, until the shape of an S was carved in blood. S for Samantha, she thought, bloody S for Samantha, the fool, that's me. Samantha the slob.
A drop of blood fell from the tip of the tweezers onto her zebra-patterned bedspread. The blood looked startling against the starkness of the bedspread's black and white. She quickly wiped the blood away, though it left a tiny, brownish mark.
Samantha looked around her room. The sun illuminated the shelf of trophies she'd won for track. She loved running; it felt like flying. The shelf below the trophies held Samantha's zebra collection, soft stuffed zebras and shiny porcelain ones, zebras carved out of African wood, and framed crayon drawings of zebras she'd made as a little girl. One zebra, smallish relative to the grasses around it, looked straight out of the paper, scared, a thunderclap. Samantha looked at her new wound, then she walked into the large red- and white-tiled bathroom that adjoined her bedroom, and patted her injured arm with a gauze pad soaked in peroxide before placing a bandage over her handiwork. The blue plastic Band-Aid was printed with red stars, white moons and yellow planets. She slipped on a long-sleeved black T-shirt.
Samantha felt much better after she cut herself. At least she'd done something. Now whatever was bad about her, whatever had made Brian leave, had been properly punished. Now maybe everything would be all right. Now maybe they could start over. It was spring, the season of new starts. Samantha's friend, Alexa, thought Brian did have a point. Samantha did eat so little, but what did Alexa know, Samantha thought, what a tub she is. Her friend Jenna thought maybe Brian just needed some time to cool down.
Samantha pushed her blond bangs out of her eyes as she scrutinized her complexion in the mirror in the harsh, unforgiving bathroom light, looking for the flaws that often afflicted sixteen-year-old complexions. Freckles sprinkled her forehead and nose in just exactly the right places. There were no imperfections, none at all. Her face was smooth, radiant, framed by shining, yellow-blond hair that fell straight to her shoulders. She sighed with relief. It always amazed her that none of the pain or tiredness she felt showed in her face, but there was something like sadness in her green eyes.
Her mother would want to know what had happened to her arm if she ever got a look at it. This was not the first time Samantha had cut herself, and she was good at inventing stories about these wounds. She would tell her mother that she'd been splattered with cooking oil at the pizza place where she worked on weekends. Her mother would also want to know if she'd eaten anything that day, and Samantha would lie about that also. She'd tell her mother that she'd eaten breakfast at her friend's house, where she had spent the night. In fact, she hadn't eaten anything at all since two days earlier, when she'd been so hungry she surrendered to a fat-free bran muffin, eating it furtively, like a raccoon in the dark recesses of a hollowed-out tree. She wouldn't even think of eating pizza anymore; that was out of the question. She thought about her plump friend, Alexa, with fear and disgust: That double chin, those puffy cheeks, that soft, billowy body. She couldn't imagine letting herself get that fatùever.
People were not the only things that could be fat. Rooms could be fat, too. Unmade beds and books not lined up in order of size could be fat, and the fatness could rub off on you.
"Sam," said Marge Rosen from the other side of the door to Samantha's room, "we're sitting down to dinner now."
"I'll be right down," said Samantha dejectedly, sliding wearily off her bed.
She smoothed the surface of her zebra-patterned bedspread and surveyed the results. Orderliness was very important to her. When her room was vacuumed and the zebras were arranged all in a neat row, and when she hadn't eaten in a whole day, life was bearable and the world seemed like a safe and predictable place. But, every now and then, even with these small bits of magic in place, Samantha experienced the world as she knew it really was, a harsh, unpredictable place, where terrible things could happen in the next moment, and no amount of vacuuming or starving could stave them off.
She took a last look at herself in her full-length mirror and her lovely heart-shaped face with its pointy chin and full lips did not reveal the loneliness, confusion and fear she felt. She frowned as she turned to look at herself from the side, placing her hand over her flat belly disapprovingly. Somehow, it was never flat enough, and she was never pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough. That was proven this morning, when Brian had told her he was tired of being with a girl who cared more about how she looked than about going to parties, a girl who was afraid of going to parties because there'd be food there that she might be tempted to eat. He didn't understand how hard it was to be her. No one did.
"Sam, I just feel so unhappy for you," Brian had said, looking at her with those incredible eyes, eyes that had once seemed so tender, but now were hard, so indifferent to her. "But I just don't feel that we're, I don't know, normal together. You're always so worried about food and your weight and everything. It makes me feel bad about myself, not being able to help you." He seemed sad, but also relieved, Sam thought, as he turned and walked down the hall to his English class.
Samantha had known Brian since seventh grade. She had enjoyed being with him because he seemed to understand that she was different, more fragile than other girls in some way. If only she was thinner, she thought, Brian would come back. She would get thinner and thinner, and everyone at Maple Ridge High would notice, and then Brian would realize what a terrible mistake he had made, and he would come back.
She pulled on her zebra-striped leggings and gave her black T-shirt a final inspection to make sure it had no bits of lint clinging to it. Then she turned away from the mirror and, giving her bangs a final fluff, stepped into the hall. Her arm throbbed a little where she'd cut herself. She knew this would stop after half an hour or so. It always had before.
The carpet in the hallway was blue-gray and plush, and there were no irregularities in the texture of its surface. Her mother always made sure that the carpet, the mirror and the top of the hall table were spotless and perfect. It seemed to calm her mother to clean them. Samantha noticed that if her mother was agitated she would vacuum or dust or polish a mirror, and it was as though she had a whole different personality when she was finished.
Samantha walked down the carpeted stairs in slow motion, holding the banister firmly and concentrating on each step. She had been feeling light-headed and was afraid of falling.
(c)2000. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Insatiable by Eve Eliot. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Meet the Author
Eve Eliot is a psychotherapist and the senior facilitator for the Compulsive Eating Treatment Week at the Caron Foundation in Wernersville, Pennsylvania. She is a trained addictions counselor and lives in New York where she has a private practice. She is co-founder of the popular Menu For Living Weekend Workshops for compulsive eaters. Having suffered from and overcome anorexia nervosa, compulsive eating and obesity herself, her work combines professional expertise, firsthand experience and true empathetic compassion. Eliot has appeared on local cable shows and on television with Barbara Walters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I just finished this book today and I thought it was a decent account of eating disorders. The author probably could have put more decriptions and such in, but all in all I would reccomend it to those wanting a basic decription of ED's. I too suffer from one and could basically relate to the characters, but not so much in depth. I did, however, think it was bad about what happened to Jessica.
This is a great book that will keep you reading until you finish that entire book. These very similar but very different teens find that food is what their lives revolve around and they don't know it and they can't help it. I strongly suggest reading this book. It is one of my favorite books and I'm sure it will become one of yours.
THIS BOOK WAS SO INFORMATIVE, TO ME.THE GIRLS AND THE ISSUES THAT THEY WERE FACING I CAN RELATE TO IT. I AM A ON AND OFF BULIMIC AND ANOREXIC AN DI CAN RELATE TO THEIR FEELINGS AND QUESTIONINGS. TO ME PPHOEBE JUST NEEDED SOME GUIDANCE AND A REALLY GOOD FRIEND WHICH IS WHAT SHE HAD IN JESSICA. JESSICA NEEDED HER MOM TO BE A PARENT AND HELP HER WITH ISSUES INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THEM TO PROGRESS. I FEEL LIKE IF MY PARENTS WERE THEIR HELPING ME THREW MY PROBLEMS I WOULD'NT HAVE WENT THREW IT. THE STORY OF THESE FOUR GIRLS TOUCHED MY LIFE AND MADE ME RETHINK ABOUT ME AND WHAT I WANT OUT OF LIFE. THE STORY OF JESSICA MADE ME REALIZE THAT. I RECOMEND THIS BOOK TO ANY ONE WHO FACES THESE SAME PROBLEMS
My favorite character was Phoebe my favorite part of the book was: I don't know why, I don't know why, I don't know why, I ate the pie...
I loved this book. It was so real and surprising. It hits all the different kinds of troubles and really helps you understand them. I've read this book 4 times and I love it more and more every time.
I really enjoyed this book. I was, at one point, very near anorexic...but I didn't let it over-take my life. I can relate to some of these girls and the pressure of high school being a sophomore myself. This book I recommend to someone who isn't sure what to do with theirself and their eating disorder. I also think that it's a good book for everyone because then you can see the affect you may have on someone when you jokingly say 'You're fat' or something beyond that. Good book, good book.
I thought this was a very good book and very well written but I know as an anorexic that this book also gave me tips on stuff to do and stuff to eat/not eat. But it also showed me what can happen if I don't get better. I think that if you are trying to recover this isn't a real great book for you but if you are recovered and you read this book it will show you that recovery was the best thing that you ever did because you could have ended up like some of these girl.
This book really lets you know what it's like to be on the other end of the disorder for once. The author really goes into depth about each character. Definately a great pick.
OH MY GOSH IM 21 AND I WAS SAMANTHA IN HIGH SCHOOL.....I LOVED THIS BOOK MY FIANCEE BOUGHT IT FOR ME AND I READ IT THE SAME DAY.I STILL STRUGGLE WITH STARVING MYSELF.ANYONE THAT IS GOING THREW THIS PLEASE PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK!!!!!!! THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO COME INTO OUR LIVES AND QUICKLY GO OTHERS STAY FOR AWHILE AND LEAVE FOOTPRINTS ON OUR HEARTS AND WE ARE NEVER EVER THE SAME!!!
I really enjoyed this book because it told the truth about what teenage girls have to deal with during their high school years. The book made me feel as though I knew the girls personally and I now watch my eating eating habits more closely as well as those of my friends and family . I used to always think that I was fat but now I control this feeling by eating healthier and exercising more often. I can't wait for the sequel!
I purchased this book because I was desperately seeking a novel about a disease that I struggle with and watch my friends deal with on a daily basis. I read the entire thing in one sitting because it was so touching and true to life! It illustrated in great detail the struggles, compulsions, symptoms, and dangers of eating disorders, without being too stuffily filled with medical terms or triggering readers into risky behaviors. It is easy to identify with one or all of the vivid characters, because they each face problems that every teenager today deals with. This sometimes disturbing book shows that people can and do die from these disorders, but there is a way to get help. I highly recommend this book for teenagers who are suffering, parents and loved ones, teachers, counselors, and anyone else who is in contact in any way with eating disorders. This book can change your life.
Ms. Eliot does a phenomenal job of writing about the eating disorders epidemic that is taking place in our society today. THere isn't a character that you can't identify with in this wonderfully written book about the pains and truths of this struggle.
I recently read Insatiable. Even thought I do not have an eating disorder it helped me to understand what people who do go through every day. I recomend this book for all teenage girls with or without eating disorders.
I think that people should stop writing books on Anorexia, Bulimia and Cutting because it only drives you to do it. While reading this book I myself suffer from being a Cutter and a Bulimic, every time Samantha cut herself it made me want to cut, every time Hannah made herself throw up I wanted to make myself throw up, every time Phoebe went into the kitchen to fill up on milk, cookies, ice cream and pie, it made me want to do the same thing, and every time Jessica starved her self for food it made me want to starve myself. If your Anorexic, Bulimic or a Cutter you shouldn't read this book because it doesn't help you at all it only inspires you to harm yourself even more. This was a good book but it has some bad effects.