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Ravenous: The Stirring Tale of Teen Love, Loss and Courage

Ravenous: The Stirring Tale of Teen Love, Loss and Courage

4.5 2
by Eve Eliot

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Ravenous is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Insatiable, nominated for Best Books for Young Adults 2002 (Booklist). Ravenous depicts the wide range of difficulties in growing up in America by exploring the journeys of three young women and two young men.

Phoebe, the size-sixteen dreamer, finally gets a boyfriend and readers


Ravenous is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Insatiable, nominated for Best Books for Young Adults 2002 (Booklist). Ravenous depicts the wide range of difficulties in growing up in America by exploring the journeys of three young women and two young men.

Phoebe, the size-sixteen dreamer, finally gets a boyfriend and readers witness her euphoria and her fear during a particularly fragile time of life. Samantha, the anorexic perfectionist, faces difficult challenges with both her boyfriend and her father, and continues to struggle with an inability to eat more than lettuce and apples. Hannah, the bulimic lesbian, has a romantic awakening inviting readers to observe ways in which she holds back and ways in which she grows. Billy and Scott, two young men who appear briefly in Insatiable, play more prominent roles in Ravenous. Eating and body-image still play a part of the story, but are by no means its major focus.

In Ravenous, the courageous young heroines and heroes are faced with a broader range of concerns-they face struggles with boyfriends, girlfriends, betrayal, parents, even themselves.

Ravenous will be irresistible to any young person who has ever endured a night of loneliness, suffered the trauma and pain of rejection or a crushing disappointment, or despaired over the fear of never fitting in. It is both timely and timeless.

Editorial Reviews

In this sequel to Insatiable (reviewed in KLIATT in July 2001), we continue to follow the lives of three high school girls who are struggling with food issues. Phoebe, a size 16, is finally learning to love her body. She has a new boyfriend, but their relationship has its ups and downs and she is attracted to another boy, too. Hannah is receiving therapy for her bulimia, dealing with her mother's death, and coming to terms with being a lesbian. Samantha continues to struggle with her anorexia and cuts herself; she goes to therapy for help too. We learn more about two young men from group therapy, Billy and Scott, and about their food struggles and their romances with the girls. The narrative shifts from one character to another, interspersed with entries from Phoebe's journal (often in the form of mock tabloid-type articles) and song lyrics (by the author). Eve Eliot is a psychotherapist working with people with eating disorders, and she has suffered from them herself. Her tale may be melodramatic, but it will engage its audience and enlighten them on these issues. A third book is planned. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, HCI, Teens, 342p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
This sequel to Insatiable (Health Communications, 2001/VOYA April 2001) continues the stories of Phoebe, Samantha, and Hannah as they struggle with their various eating disorders and the many other difficult issues that further complicate their lives. Phoebe reacts to problematic situations by overeating, which she does quite often as she begins to date her best friend after years of friendship. Samantha, an anorexic, has relationship difficulties with her boyfriend while she tries to increase her food intake. Hannah, who is bulimic, copes with her lesbianism, has an affair with her teacher, and deals with a crush on her boss. Billy and Scott have minor supporting roles, and their characters are developed further in this book. All are friends who support each other in their group therapy sessions that help them come to terms with what troubles them and make difficult decisions and find the courage to live with their choices. This sequel suggests that the characters are beginning to recover from the disorders that they began to understand in the first novel. Although the chapters skip around, can be hard to follow sometimes, and lack cohesion, teens suffering from eating disorders and other complex problems might relate to the characters in this novel by seeing a little bit of themselves in the portrayals. 2002, Health Communications, 340p,
— Anne Keller
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This sequel to Insatiable (Health Communications, 2001) continues the interconnected stories about members of an eating-disorder group led by therapist Gale Holland. The members are older now and dealing with issues of college and sexuality in addition to their serious food addictions. Ravenous also gets inside Gale's head as she attempts to teach the group methods to cope. Phoebe is still dealing with her father's scorn because she is overweight, and still overwhelmed by love for Daryl, who is involved with someone else. Anorexic Samantha has lost one boyfriend because of her food-control issues, but she is extremely resistant to recovering. And Hannah seems to carry the biggest burden, not only because she is bulimic, but also because she is a lesbian. She is also coming to terms with her mother's death from anorexia and breast cancer. Several other characters are added to the group, including two men and an older woman who is a heavy smoker and suffering from long-term anorexia. The writing here is smoother than in Insatiable but the use of words in capitals on almost every other page to add emphasis is irritating. Purchase if the first book was popular; otherwise rely on older classics on the topic, such as Steven Levenkron's Best Little Girl in the World (Turtleback, 1979) and Susan Terris's Nell's Quilt (Sunburst, 1996).-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Health Communications, Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When Daryl phoned Phoebe she was standing on her head, waiting for his call.
She had been practicing yoga ever since Hannah had taken her to a class, and
Phoebe loved it. She could easily resist cookies when she was standing on her
head. Upside-down, time was suspended, and she felt weightless, or in outer
space, and even ginger snaps lost their gravitational pull.

"Hey, Morgenstern! How are you?" the now-upright Phoebe said when
she heard Daryl's voice, the voice she entirely loved, the voice she hardly
ever stopped hearing in her head, the voice that belonged to the boy who still
belonged to the adorable, chubby Gabriella. Gabby. That lucky girl.

"Good," replied Daryl, unconvincingly. Since his mother's death a
year earlier, he had gone away to college as a pre-med major, seen his twin
sisters move in with their aunt, and maintained a long-distance relationship
with Gabby, his high-school girlfriend. Phoebe had urged him to get some therapy,
but Daryl saw himself as a cowboy, alone on his horse, braving the wilderness,
riding the range.

Phoebe's therapist, Gale Holland, said most men thought of themselves this
way, that cowboys didn't get therapy, they got drunk. Phoebe knew Daryl didn't
ever get drunk, not even to quiet the pain of his recent losses. Phoebe herself
preferred food to drinking or drugs. She had once gotten extremely drunk and
vowed, when she found her cheek pressing against the tile floor of a bathroom
in a bistro in Paris, that she would never drink again. And she hadn't. She
had tried marijuana (one of the models at her father's photo studio had pulled
her into the darkroom and offered her a drag on a joint) and felt giggly, but
weird, and she'd had to eat two bagels with lots of cream cheese to get her
equilibrium back.

"I'm good," repeated Daryl, as though to convince Phoebe of the truth
of it, or to convince himself.

"Oh yeah?" replied Phoebe playfully. "What's so good about you?"

Daryl didn't laugh, as he usually would have when Phoebe flirted. He didn't
say anything. Phoebe waited and then said, "Daryl?"

Still there was silence. It was not that relaxed sort of silence that happens
when you are just hanging out. It was a tense silence. Stiff. It made Phoebe's
muscles ache.

"Daryl? Are you there? What's wrong?"

"It's-it's-Gabby," answered Daryl. "Gabby and me."

"What? What about her?" asked Phoebe impatiently.

"Me and Gabby," said Daryl softly. "We're-engaged. I mean,
we're going to be. I mean-it's too hard long distance. She says we need
commitment. We need structure. We-she said we need to be engaged, otherwise
. . . "

"Otherwise?" prompted Phoebe.

"Otherwise she says we can't . . . "

"Can't what?" demanded Phoebe, horrified and interrupting Daryl again.
But she knew what Daryl was about to say.

Before Daryl had phoned, Phoebe had been feeling incredibly good. That was
how she described how she felt to herself. She even felt that she looked incredibly
good. Her thick, springy, long brown curls shone. Her creamy skin radiated a
rosy glow. Her body felt strong. It was not the tall slender body of a fashion
model. It was the curvy, size-sixteen body of a girl of five-foot-three who
had, in the past year, lost over forty-five pounds.

Phoebe sat on the floor of her room in a numbed condition, holding the phone
pressed so tight against her head that her ear was actually sweating. Her ear
was sweating. Daryl and Gabby were going to be engaged. Engaged to be married.
Phoebe felt simultaneously protective of Daryl's feelings and hopeful that Gabby
would break up with him, since she knew that Daryl-kind, strong, loyal
Daryl, gallant cowboy Daryl-would never break up with her.

"Can't go on," continued Daryl. "Gabby said she can't go on
with this long-distance thing."

"Ugh!" exclaimed Phoebe disgustedly. "What is she thinking?

"Maybe she's right," said Daryl.

"What is she afraid of?" asked Phoebe.

"She's afraid if I don't commit to her, somebody else will sweep me off
my feet."

Phoebe pictured Daryl on a big, chestnut horse, bridle gleaming, tooled saddle
glowing dully in the sunset, a cowgirl clip-clopping along on a shiny black
pony, lassoing him.

"Well, girls are always chasing you around. But she isn't giving you much
credit for having the ability to say Ono' to them. Is she." It was
not really a question. Phoebe sighed. Girls and women, females of all ages,
could not keep their eyes or their hands off Daryl.

Phoebe glanced at the time: 6:25.

"Oh no! I have to go!" she said. She would have to dash if she was
going to make it to Gale's 7:00 group on time. She stepped over several copies
of The Star and The Enquirer as she crossed the room, glimpsing a headline proclaiming
that a sheep had given birth to a human baby, and, on another front page, a
picture of Michael Jackson, whose nose looked even smaller than in the last
photo she'd seen of him. Grabbing the keys to the dark-green Toyota Land Cruiser
her parents had given her for graduation, she headed for the driveway. Her little
apricot colored poodles, Tom and Nicole, jumped up and down around her legs.
Cookies spoke to her from the inside of the cookie jar shaped like a giant frosted
chocolate cupcake.

* * * * *

Hannah put the finishing touches on her first wedding cake, placing candied
violets around the iced perimeter of the cake's three white tiers. It gave her
a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to view her handiwork at the end of this
day at the bakery. She'd also written some good fortunes to place inside the
little pink and white and yellow meringues she'd made.

"Only the spoon knows what's in the soup." (Spanish proverb.)

"You can't fix it if you don't admit it's broken." (Gale Holland)

Hannah's employer, Devie (her full name was Devon Poole), was impressed with
her creativity and willingness to work hard. Botticelli Bakery had an excellent
reputation in the community, and people from surrounding Long Island towns went
out of their way for their raspberry cheese pie, chocolate pound cake and crusty
herb bread.

Hannah had a bit of a headache, and her neck felt stiff. She wondered if she
had meningitis, encephalitis or mad cow disease, if she'd soon begin to have
convulsions, followed by coma. Hannah was terrified of being sick while always
suspecting she was. Her mother, after a lifetime of anorexia, had died at the
age of thirty-six after having been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the
anorexia, though, the doctors said, that had prematurely ended her life.

Hannah was proud that she had not purged in several months. She had finally
gone to see a doctor about the blood she had noticed when she threw up. Gale
had been firm when she'd told Hannah last spring that she would not see her
again until she'd seen a doctor, and Hannah had reluctantly but quickly made
the appointment at a clinic during the next week, when she knew her father would
be away on business.

Gale had also asked that Hannah sign a release giving Gale permission to speak
with the doctor about his findings and had Hannah ask the doctor to sign a similar
release giving him permission to do the same. This was necessary because often
clients would see the doctor and say it was for a general check-up, never mentioning
the bulimia or the bleeding, therefore complying with the requirement to see
a doctor but not addressing the life-threatening symptoms. If untreated, bleeding
from the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach, was fatal
more than 50 percent of the time. Gale had been worried about Hannah, and she
had communicated this to Hannah so emphatically that Hannah had been worried,
too-worried enough to tell the doctor the truth.

Hannah knew Gale found it amazing that, given Hannah's proclivity for attributing
dire causes to every symptom, she could nonetheless continue to purge without
fear of the consequences. Denial, Gale had told Hannah about a thousand times,
was a baffling, treacherous thing.

The doctor had examined Hannah with an endoscope, a tube with a tiny camera
on the end of it, and had taken some blood for a complete blood count. He'd
explained that vigorous vomiting could easily tear the small blood vessels of
the esophagus, which would account for her bleeding. After he'd performed the
endoscopy, he'd admitted her to the hospital for two days of intravenous feeding.
Since the source of Hannah's bleeding was in the neck region, the upper part
of her esophagus, and the tears looked tiny, the doctor told her she could go
home after the two days of IV feeding if she finished the course of antibiotics
he prescribed-and stopped purging. She would have to return for weekly
follow-up visits for at least a month, he'd told her, and she had.

Hannah was relieved that when the statement from the insurance company came,
it said she'd been treated in the hospital for esophageal bleeding. When her
father, who'd still been away on business when Hannah was in the hospital, questioned
her about it, she said she'd had food poisoning and had thrown up a lot. She
told Gale she'd felt bad about lying, but not as bad as she would have felt
if she'd had to tell her father the truth. Anyway, food, she reasoned, WAS a
sort of poison for her.

She'd developed an interest in esophageal bleeding after her discharge from
the hospital and found references to it on many Internet sites. When she'd read
about it, and about how the dehydration from purging could cause kidney failure
and heart irregularities that could lead to her death, Hannah had been terrified
of hurting herself further and had stopped purging right away.

Hannah was looking for a way not to go home. For today, at least, she had escaped
the magnetic force of cinnamon raisin loaf, olive bread and pound cake. Her
need to produce dozens of these, and make each one perfect, captured her imagination.
It was aimlessness, unstructured time, which made her vulnerable to bingeing.
When her hands and mind were occupied by something challenging, which required
her to stretch her creative capabilities, Hannah felt practically normal. Time
disappeared, and so did her fear and self-doubt, and she floated through her
tasks in a velvety soft internal silence.

Without that sanctuary, she was apprehensive about the thoughts that could
come, about what those thoughts could make her feel, and about what the feelings
might make her do. The thought, the realization, that she was gay plagued her
daily, hourly if she was not productively occupied. Why did "it" have
to be called that, Hannah reflected irritably as she wiped flour off the counters
in the bakery's big kitchen. Were all homosexuals all over the planet, at this
moment, whistling, smiling or humming? What was so "gay" about being
gay, she wondered angrily. What could be cheery about identifying oneself as
a member of a third gender, which was in the minority?

Hannah had a crush on her boss. That her boss was married, and the mother of
two boys, did not seem to have any dampening effect on Hannah's ardor. It wasn't
only the motherly way Devie took pride in Hannah's dedication to her baking
that pleased Hannah so much. Hannah thrived on the nurturing provided by her
appreciative employer, especially without a mother of her own. It was the longing
for Devie's touch that terrified Hannah, her craving to be held by this small,
dark woman, to have her stroke her hair.

Devie came into the bakery on her way home from picking up one of her boys.
She came in through the bakery's back entrance, and a gust of wind lifted puffs
of flour and powdered sugar out of the big drums in which they were stored.
Hannah's face was smudged with flour, her hands sticky from icing, which she
was licking off her fingers when Devie came in. She loved icing best when she
could eat it with her hands. When Hannah was little, and her mother had made
icing, she would let Hannah lick some off her fingers.

"Make sure you clean up really well before you close up," said Devie,
looking at the crowded counters covered with bowls that had been full of batter
and dough and buttercream.

Devie had never said anything like that to Hannah. In fact, she usually said
how pleased she was with how clean and orderly everything was since Hannah had
come to work for her.

When Devie left, Hannah felt extremely angry and confused. Until now, she'd
thought of Devie as gentle, as someone who admired and appreciated her. Until
now, she'd felt safe with Devie, had enjoyed imagining herself as part of Devie's
family. She was glad it was almost time for her to go to her Tuesday night group.

2002. All rights reserved. Reprinted from
Ravenous 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 has had a private psychotherapy practice for eleven years and is co-founder of the popular Menu For Living Weekend Workshops for compulsive eaters, currently offered in New York. She appeared on The Sally Jessy Rafael Show twice in 2001, both times engendering a fantastic response from the audience. In addition, she has been interviewed on radio numerous times in the past year in connection with Insatiable, and has been interviewed for more than a dozen newspapers, including the Boston Globe. A sought-after expert in the field of eating and body-image disorders, she finds personal experience to be her most powerful tool for helping others change. This is also what informs her work with sound advice, as well as true empathic compassion.

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Ravenous: The Stirring Tale of Teen Love, Loss and Courage 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great although i did not read the whole thing cause i gt the sample but still great. I eccomend this book to anyone
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great. It was very well written and I found that the charecters were easy to relate to.