Skinny

Skinny

3.7 113
by Ibi Kaslik
     
 

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Do you ever get hungry? Too hungry to eat?

Holly's older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, this once strong role model and medical student, is gripped by anorexia. Holly, a track star, struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration ofSee more details below

Overview

Do you ever get hungry? Too hungry to eat?

Holly's older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, this once strong role model and medical student, is gripped by anorexia. Holly, a track star, struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved sister. Together, they can feel themselves slipping and are holding on for dear life.

This honest look at the special bond between sisters is told from the perspective of both girls, as they alternate narrating each chapter. Gritty and often wryly funny, Skinny explores family relationships, love, pain, and the hunger for acceptance that drives all of us.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Family secrets play a role in Canadian author Kaslik's powerful first novel about 22-year-old Giselle's struggle with anorexia and its devastating effects on her family. Giselle was one of the top 10 in her class at medical school before suffering a breakdown. While at home recovering, Giselle is on a mission to figure out why her father (who has been dead for nine years) didn't love her. The first two-thirds of the book move slowly: Giselle's narrative shifts between the present and flashbacks of her childhood as she searches for clues to her father's behavior. When her condition slightly improves, Giselle allows herself to enjoy the attentions of Solomon and imagines going back to medical school. In alternating chapters, Giselle's 14-year-old sister, Holly, expresses her concern about Giselle's condition while grappling with her own issues. Together their narratives convey the unbreakable bond between the two sisters. Giselle's downward spiral begins when she suspects Solomon and Holly have acted on their feelings for each other, and the final third of the book chronicles Giselle's losing battle with her illness. Readers may find the scene in which an emaciated Giselle escapes from the hospital to be highly unlikely, but, overall, Giselle's battle with self-image is painfully realistic. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo
Giselle and Holly are sisters, eight years apart in age, but emotionally close. The story of Giselle's fight with anorexia is told alternately by, fourteen-year-old Holly and twenty-two year old Giselle. After collapsing at the end of her first year of medical school, Giselle is hospitalized and eventually released to be with her mother and sister. At this point, there is hope that she will conquer this illness that is killing her from the inside out. However, after a pivotal plot turn, the story loses hope and Holly is not just running for her own pleasure but now to escape her own life. Both sisters fixate on their father and his death eight years ago. Giselle is not sure if he is her biological father and dreams that this may be the reason their relationship was always so strained. Both girls are well developed characters, and the sinister character of Giselle's alter ego is so perceptively drawn that when she tells Giselle not to eat, it repulsed me. The mother, however, is a shadowy character, filling in the background, smoking, crying, and begging Giselle to eat. The writing is complex, not always easy to navigate, but often beautiful and evocative. Some of the medical information is not correct, in spite of the author's attempt to research this field. Perhaps it would have helped to have a medical professional proof a draft. Kaslik references Plath in her writing; the reader would be reminded of Plath even without this reference. The grim content deems this appropriate only for older readers.
VOYA - Kimberly Paone
Athletic and boyish, solid-bodied Holly has a hearing impairment and learning challenges. Her older sister, waif-like Giselle, is a brilliant and beautiful med student. The sisters have always been very different and were treated differently by their now-deceased father-Holly beloved but pitied for her deficiencies, and Giselle all but ignored. Now even years later, both sisters are still coping with their father's inconsistent attentions, his long-kept secrets, and his ghostly visitations. Holly acts out at school; Giselle stops eating. While Giselle gets smaller, her problems get larger and permeate the lives of all the people around her. Giselle's mother, her boyfriend, and Holly are all wooed, manipulated, and angered by the new ultra-thin creature that she has become. This novel is heavy with issues, and Kaslik tries to do too much in too few pages. Giselle's anorexia and the areas of her life affected by it would make for an interesting story, but the addition of the complexities of the sibling relationship, Holly's difficulties, Giselle's boyfriend's issues, her unresolved problems with her father, and the question of her paternity all serve to cloud the original tale. The alternating chapters-told from Holly's perspective and from Giselle's-further confuse the reader. There are several other books that tell stories of anorexia much more effectively, including Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self by Lori Gottlieb (Simon & Schuster, 1999) and one that also deals with sibling relationships, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (Viking, 2006/VOYA April 2006).
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In her first year of med school, 22-year-old Giselle Vasco seems to have it all together. But a lifetime of bitter relations with her deceased father is slowly catching up, and she falls into a downward spiral that her mother and her younger sister, Holly, are powerless to stop. Skinny, though, is much more than a study of one young woman's battle with anorexia. What starts as Giselle's story quickly develops into a rich and powerful tapestry of a whole family. When Thomas and Vesla Vasco emigrated from Hungary in the 1970s to escape communism's rigid caste system, Vesla was already pregnant, and Thomas had always questioned whether the baby was his. His doubts color his whole relationship with his older daughter, and when Holly is born eight years later, the divide becomes more apparent. Holly, a natural athlete, struggles to understand and avert her sister's self-loathing. The chapters alternate between the sisters' voices, and the ability to see the events unfolding through their eyes adds a depth and a poignancy that would not have been possible with a single narrator. Kaslik's first novel hits the mark with characters with whom teens will empathize, and tackles a relevant and painful subject with grace.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Unflinching and raw, this story of two sisters is powered by a frenetic energy that can't be ignored. Swapping medical school for an eating-disorder clinic wasn't 22-year-old Giselle's plan, and her 14-year-old sister Holly didn't see it coming either. Reading chapters that alternate between their distinct and sometimes startlingly aware voices, readers will be intimately imbedded in each sister's mind as they each deal with Giselle's disorder and the complicated family issues that their struggle unearths, especially regarding their deceased father and their parents' earlier life in Hungary. Although brimming, sometimes to the point of nearly overflowing, with intense and masterful poetic imagery, this text and its heavy subject matter are presented with clarity and truth. Without blinking, Kaslik tackles lesbianism, drug abuse, suicide and other mature topics, making this text appropriate for older teens and college students. Brave and unique. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802784605
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
147,923
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Ibi Kaslik is a freelance writer and novelist. She has an MA in creative writing and lives in Toronto, Canada. Her first novel, Skinny, was short listed for both the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award.

Visit her Web site at www.ibikaslik.net.

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