4.2 9
by Sarah Darer Littman

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This striking novel from acclaimed author Sarah Darer Littman is now available in paperback! 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…  See more details below


This striking novel from acclaimed author Sarah Darer Littman is now available in paperback! 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.
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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)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
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File size:
932 KB
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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