Having grown up with a mother who dieted throughout my childhood, I know eating disorders up close. I wish I’d had a book in middle school to help me feel I wasn’t alone. I recently reached out to eating disorder survivor and author Jen Petro-Roy to share some middle grade novels with B&N readers about protagonists who are recovering from an eating disorder. Jen says about choosing books for kids about an ED: “One of the things that is so important with these types of recovery and “illness” narratives is to make sure that the illness itself isn’t glorified and the text doesn’t give readers any ‘ideas’ of behaviors that could perpetuate their disorder.” Here are five titles we recommend (one of which features a male protagonist).
Good Enough, by Jen Petro-Roy
A twelve-year-old named Riley has an eating disorder in this new contemporary novel, and she’s on a journey to find the strength to recover. Riley chronicles her two-month stay in the hospital, where she is being treated for anorexia. As the story movies on, Riley faces her past and finds the willingness to believe the healthy voice that’s telling her to take care of herself.
You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery, by Jen Petro-Roy
A self-help guide that answers your questions about body image and disordered eating. This nonfiction self-help book for young readers with disordered eating and body image problems delivers real talk about eating disorders and body image, tools and information for recovery, and suggestions for dealing with the media messages that contribute so much to disordered eating. You Are Enough answers questions like: “What are eating disorders?” and “What types of treatment are available for eating disorders?”
All of Me, by Chris Baron
When Ari’s parents move across the country to promote his mother’s artwork, Ari is bullied because he’s overweight. Talking to his parents won’t work because his mom needs space to create her paintings and sculptures; and his father is gone for long stretches of time on “sales” trips. Ari’s mom suggests he go on a diet, and she gives him a book to help. But this won’t fix what’s really at the heart of Ari’s struggles. Ari soon realizes that his parents’ marriage won’t last, and he learns to overcome so much. This is a story about family, love, and accepting one’s imperfections.
Swing Sideways, by Nanci Turner Steveson
Annie suffers from panic attacks and an eating disorder, so her therapist suggests that she spend an unstructured summer of freedom with her parents at their lake house—away from her unkind friends and controlling mother’s spreadsheets and rigid scheduling. That’s when a free-spirited girl named California befriends Annie and the two uncover secrets, climb trees, and talk without Annie’s controlling Mom around. This is a story about friendship, loss, and bravery.
Everything I Know About You, by Barbara Dee
Thirteen-year-old Tally is on a seventh-grade class trip to DC when she begins to suspect something is off about her friend Ava. That’s how Tally figures out that her friend might be struggling with an eating disorder This is a story about loving yourself and being a good friend.
What middle grade books would you recommend to kids suffering from disordered eating?