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4.2 9
by Sarah Darer Littman

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From acclaimed author Sarah Darer Littman, a striking story about a girl's recovery from bulimia in the tradition of CUT, PERFECT, and GIRL INTERRUPTED.

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


From acclaimed author Sarah Darer Littman, a striking story about a girl's recovery from bulimia in the tradition of CUT, PERFECT, and GIRL INTERRUPTED.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Written in first person, including journal entries, Littman's chronicle of teen bulimia unfolds as 16-year-old Janie describes her stay in a rehabilitation center for eating disorders. For Janie, bingeing and purging make her feel in control of a body she hates. After a humiliating scene at her sister's wedding in which her disease is discovered, she tries to kill herself and is brought to the center for treatment. Unfortunately, her stay is predictable and her counterparts come across as clichéd. Janie's recounting of the events leading up to her suicide attempt, however, is entirely relatable and her feelings authentic ("Was there ever a period of time when I was able to love food unreservedly, without thinking of it as 'the enemy' the minute it was in my stomach?"). Most realistic is her friendship with childhood pal Kelsey, and their big fight is devastating, as is Janie's losing her virginity to a boy who treats her badly. Littman (Confessions of a Closet Catholic) offers a good, if limited, addition to the resources available for teens suffering with this issue. Ages 12-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Lucy Schall
Sixteen-year-old, high-achieving, and seemingly stable Jane Louise Ryman competes with her perfect half-sister for her father's love, fantasizes over a vain boyfriend, and comforts herself with binging and purging until the combination drives her to a suicide attempt and a stay at a psychiatric facility. As she interacts with nurses, physicians, "barfers," and "starvers," she realizes that meeting her parents' and peer group's expectations destroys her identity, a void she fills with food. Jane's emotional journey teaches her that her half-sister also struggles for their father's affections, and that both her father and mother offer her unconditional love despite her losing her virginity to the exploitive son of her father's best client. Throughout the story, Littman manages angst, mystery, and humor as she moves from Jane's first days in Golden Slopes back to the event precipitating the suicide attempt and then forward to Jane taking responsibility for her recovery. Littman, who is recovering from an eating disorder, provides an "Eating Disorder Resources" section with Web sites, books, and treatment centers for additional help. Add the nonfiction Too Fat or Too Thin?: A Reference Guide to Eating Disorders (Greenwood Press, 2003/VOYA April 2004) to that list and the fiction Cut (Front Street, 2000/VOYA February 2001), Just Listen (Viking, 2006/VOYA April 2006), and Wintergirls (Viking, 2009/VOYA April 2009). Jane is an involving and believable narrator as she figures out herself, her family, and her fellow patients. Her story will draw an enthusiastic, senior high, primarily female audience, but the language and situations make it a controversial choice for younger readers.Reviewer: Lucy Schall
Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
Janie is a resident at Golden Slopes where she is trying to overcome bulimia. With constant surveillance, there is not any room for privacy, except when journaling. Through Janie's journal we see the thought process of a bulimic and meet the other patients at Golden Slopes struggling with their own disorders, such as anorexia. As the co-ed group is divided into Barfers and Starvers, the most intense behaviors are explored in group therapy and leisure time interactions. Janie observes those around her and we witness skeletal girls trying to sneak in exercise, or boys that have been bullied into taking on an unhealthy athletic routine. Janie herself becomes so desperate to continue her disorder she deceitfully throws up into her own socks. She only begins the process of healing by reliving memories that she tried to push down. The plot moves along so quickly that Janie's realizations and the ending seem almost abrupt. Written by an eating disorder survivor, both bulimia and anorexia are touched upon in this novel which does include cursing. Reading about mental struggles becoming physical will be difficult for younger readers to handle or understand. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Stuck with a bunch of “Barfers” and “Starvers,” Janie, 16, describes her experiences at Golden Slopes, a rehab facility. Partly dead serious and partly humorous, her narrative slowly changes as she goes from believing that she’s almost normal to understanding that she is sick and needs help. Other patients include various girls, an older woman, and a couple of boys, all of whom have wide-ranging issues at the heart of their pain. While other books are more realistic about the time involved in treating eating disorders, Littman provides a sympathetic character and a quick overview of treatment and hopeful progress. Janie moves from denial of habitual bulimia to release back to her regular routine in only three weeks. Her parents are loving, her family is loyal, and her friends are forgiving. The universality of Janie’s blindness to her own behavior is clearly portrayed, as is her later insight into her destructive choices. Drinking and sexual situations are necessary to the plot and are described realistically. This is a worthy addition to the current books on the topic for its relatively lighter touch and accessibility.–Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
High-school junior Janie has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment of her bulimia. How she came to be sent there is gradually revealed in conversations, journal entries and her first-person, self-focused narration, in Littman's second effort (Confessions of a Closet Catholic, 2006). Janie shares group therapy with a motley crew of others with eating disorders, mostly teens and including two boys, one of whom is gay, the other a superficial jock. The patients group themselves according to their disorders, with the bulimics depicted as having little understanding of the anorexics. Though eating disorders are never made light of, neither do they become the entire focus, so that even when one of the anorexic girls dies, the impact is minimized. Janie recovers with remarkable speed, though the outlook for some of the other superficially sketched characters appears less promising. An afterword includes a variety of websites and books for information and treatment options. An average teen-angst novel with an underlying but not heavy-handed message, this may start a few conversations. (Fiction. 11 & up)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
950L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah Darer Littman's widely praised first novel for teens, CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC, won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award. She is also the author of the YA novel PURGE. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a house which never seems to have enough bookshelves.

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Purge 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
Written by: Sarah Darer Littman
Published by: Scholastic
Reviewed by: Stephanie Rollins for ReviewYourBook.com 12/2008
¿Insight to Bulimia and Anorexia¿ 4 stars
This story reads like a novel, but it gives the reader insight to bulimia and anorexia. If you have wondered why people have eating disorders and what goes through their minds, this book is for you.
If eating disorders are of no interest to you, you will not find this book worth reading. The entire book is from the viewpoint of a girl who binges and purges. She ends up in a facility where there is much understanding among the patients, but there is little understanding amongst the parents and staff.
This is well written and insightful. Littman writes in a descriptive manner, allowing you to roam the halls of the facility with the patients. If you know someone with an eating disorder, you must read this.
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Janie has a problem. She's unwilling to admit that her eating disorder has control over her. But now she's forced to think about it all day, because after the disaster at her sister's wedding, her parents have placed her in an instituation. Here she's forced to eat, must wait 30 minutes in the day room after eating, have group therapy sessions, and have someone eavesdrop on her bathroom visits. All and all, Janie hates in here, but there's no where to go unless she stops running and faces her problems head on. What made her purge in the first place and how did she quickly spin so out of control?

A heart wrenching yet funny tale ("It was like they went from being my Band of Barfers, my Sisterhood of Sneaky Eaters, to my Judge and freaking Jury in three minutes flat.") Littman tackles such a huge issue with humor, honesty, and lets the raw ain of her characters shine through. It's really a book everyone should be reading and chatting about. It's that good.

~ Yabooknerd @ http://www.yabooknerd.blogspot.com/
Kristi-Reads More than 1 year ago
I got this book as part of a Thrift Books haul. I'll be the first to tell you I'm a sucker for eating disorder books and started reading this with the intention of rating a five. But between the lack of character development and laughable depiction of treatment centers (I've been in a few), I just wasn't that into it. I don't see this book changing or even trying to change anyone's life--if anything, this is the kind of triggering fodder 'pro-anas' live for. Cannot recommend.
Mad_Alice More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. It was very interesting and a I loved learning the life of Janie. I'm glad the way it turned out in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Purge is a beautiful writtwn novel about anorexia and bulimia. I defintately reccomend this book. I am bulimic, and this book was a little triggering though.
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
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.
Linute22 More than 1 year ago
Purge is a story about a high school teenager who faces everyday with an eating disorder. Janie the main character, and is put in Camp Golden Slopes to help her with her recovery. She is giving a journal where she chooses to write about anything that she wants. For the first half of the book, Janie explains and complains about being at Camp Golden Slopes and how she believes it is not helping her. Due to her eating disorder, she is called one of the barfers, a bulimic. Janie purging is more of an escape from her body image and a feel of lightness after. She likes the feel of emptiness that it brings after. After one therapy session that she has, she begins to question herself and her identity. Janie starts to open up, and writhing about how she really ended up at Camp Golden Slopes. She explains how her parents compare her to her step sister Jenny, and how the boy she liked for a long time asked her out and how she gave her virginity to him. Janie talks about many factors why she believes that bulimia was on impact in her life and how she, later in the book, believes with the help from Dr. Pardy, she can get out of the place healthy and less self-conscious. Janie explains some the very dramatic events that lead to her coming to Camp Golden Slopes, how she ruined her step sisters "perfect' wedding, and how she felt like she didn't belong in the world and took a bunch of her mom's Xanax pills and how she woke up in a hospital. She conjures her fears of telling everything to her parents making sue that they also understand her feelings towards her life and her bulimia. Sarah Littman has put a very good detailed book about a lot of what young girls are going through and how dangerous eating disorders may be. She uses real life experiences to make the story seem even more realistic then it actually is. This book really can show the dangerous aspects of bulimia, as well as anorexia. I would recommend this book to girls who are going to a phase of questions about their body image and what are the wrong choices in their way of eating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Janie believed it was under control. What began as just a little something to relieve that "full" feeling after a big meal at a Chinese restaurant became the focus of her life. Janie can admit now that she is bulimic. What she can't understand and admit is why she has let this disorder consume her. Perhaps her family is to blame. Her father dotes on her "perfect" older sister. That older sister only pays attention to her own "perfect" wedding plans. Janie's mother not only has a career to attend to, but also that "perfect" wedding to orchestrate. The boy of her dreams finally asks her out, but after only a few short dates expects her to sacrifice her virginity. Afterward, she doesn't feel loved, she just feels like a slut. Embarrassment keeps her from confiding in her real friends, which causes hard feelings and separation. Now after total humiliation at her sister's wedding, Janie finds herself at Golden Slopes, a treatment facility for eating disorders. She is now one of the Barfers waiting in frustration for the Starvers to straggle in for every scheduled meal. In between therapy sessions, she shares her thoughts in a journal. More than anything she wants to go home, but first she must confront her situation and come to terms with the root cause of her constant desire to purge. Author Sarah Darer Littman brings a fresh voice to this growing problem among teens today. Her story proves how wide-spread the problem of eating disorders has become. Among her cast of characters, readers will hear from males as well as females, the well-to-do as well as the disadvantaged, and even someone well beyond her teen years who has fallen victim to the disease. Littman highlights the seriousness and the life-threatening effects of eating disorders, but at the same time, through humor and the results of positive treatment, provides hope and encouragement. PURGE is one you won't want to miss.