A unique look at mental illness [and a] powerful method of illustrating the warped thinking that characterizes an eating disorder. This unusual and moving novel addresses complicated ideas, and is ultimately a hopeful tale about coming back to life.
A Trick of the Light is a masterpiece of narrative voice, riveting from beginning to end. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it. Stunningly original and profoundly insightful, this book has touched me as a reader and inspired me as a writer.
At its heart, A Trick of the Light is a compassionate and inventive exploration of a little-understood behavior that plagues a surprising number of young men.
The [narrative] voice in A Trick of the Light is manipulative and deceitful, drawing readers into Mike’s head and forcing them to decide for themselves what’s true and what’s twisted. Don’t be misled by the book’s small size: This slim volume packs a big emotional punch.
Metzger’s cautionary tale is made more powerful and dramatic by her choice of narrator: the voice in Mike’s head. Readers will be easily caught by the quandary: Will the voice prevail, or will Mike recover control of his mind-and his body-before it’s too late?
A unique look at mental illness [and a] powerful method of illustrating the warped thinking that characterizes an eating disorder. This unusual and moving novel addresses complicated ideas, and is ultimately a hopeful tale about coming back to life.”
Mike’s world is beginning to spin out of control. But the voice in his head can tell him exactly how to “master the chaos” in this horror story wrapped in reality. A Trick of the Light deserves to stand on the same shelf as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.
The story of 15-year-old Mike Welles’s descent into anorexia is narrated by the disease itself, the insidious voice inside his head preying on his every vulnerability. The voice waits patiently for an opening, which comes in the form of Mike’s parents’ marital crisis and his insecurity around a new crush, pushing Mike to exercise, coaching him to subsist on next to nothing, and encouraging a friendship with Amber, who is also anorexic. Mike drops weight, isolates himself, and yearns to be thinner, which he equates with true strength. A therapist eventually tells Mike that he has been eclipsed and, “the only real thing about you now is your eating disorder.” Metzger, in her first novel since Missing Girls (1999), lays bare this truth in an unsettling story that offers a painful and necessary account of how eating disorders affect boys, too. Metzger’s choice to cast the disease in the role of narrator forces readers inside Mike’s head, an extremely uncomfortable yet illuminating way to examine this lethal disease. Ages 14–up. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (June)
A Trick of the Light should be required reading in our schools. Rendered with sensitivity and intelligence, Metzger’s beautifully drawn novel illuminates the sneaky-insidious nature of eating disorders with clarity, heart-rending honesty, and hope.
Stunning, heart-wrenching, and painful, yet uplifting and hopeful, A Trick of the Light is an important book for teens. Told from the male point of view, A Trick of the Light addresses negative body image and weight issues for boys.
Lois Metzger’s deeply interior story sheds necessary light on an otherwise unspoken pain. A must-read.
A Trick of the Light is a marvel. It’s hard to imagine a more convincing and insightful depiction of a teenager dealing with a serious personal issue, and yet the story does so in a mysterious and unexpected way.
A new and important look at an issue that deserves our attention, and compassion.
Gr 8 Up—This is a somewhat familiar story told in a new way: from the disease's point of view. Mike's home life is crumbling. His father has left for a much younger woman, and his mother can barely get out of bed. But the narrative voice readers hear is not that of the 14-year-old, but rather his insecurities, bitterness, and, ultimately, his anorexia. "The voice" eventually eclipses his personality. Mike befriends an anorexic girl who encourages the destructive inner voice and teaches him how to stop eating while fooling those around him. He buys himself a distorted mirror in which he appears ugly and misshapen and looks only at this image of himself. Soon enough, Mike ends up in a hospital for kids with eating disorders. He leaves restored to health, but still prey to his insecurities. Mike's stalwart friend and their mutual devotion to the art of stop-motion animation ultimately silence the voice. A chilling, straightforward novel written with depth and understanding, A Trick of the Light shows readers that they must always be vigilant about the voice they listen to-even when it is their own.—Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
A young stop-motion-film enthusiast's encounter with anorexia, as narrated by...his eating disorder? Readers first meet Mike through the eyes of an unidentified narrator who is following him. It gradually becomes clear that the narrator is not a person but a voice Mike sometimes hears. The voice gains influence when Mike's father leaves his mother for a younger woman, and soon, Mike is starving himself. A new friend, Amber Alley, teaches him to eat as little as possible and gives him tips on how to hide what he's doing from his parents. Mike's eating disorder ramps up jarringly quickly, particularly given that its only apparent external trigger is a conversation in which Mike hounds a girl to go out with him, then demands to know if her refusal is because he's fat (whether Mike is fat by anyone's standards but the voice's is unclear from the text). The story is well-plotted and its prose engaging, but the central conceit leaves a distracting number of questions unanswered. Who is this voice? What are its motivations? Why does it choose Mike? An ambitious and unusual take on teens and eating disorders--but not an entirely satisfactory one. (Fiction. 12-18)