Review: Letting Ana Go by Anonymous
Publisher: Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Pages: 279 (ARC)
Format/Source: ARC/Received from publisher for review
In the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky, a harrowing account of anorexia and addiction.
She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.
But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt.
But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…
Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)
*Warning: While I really don’t like spoilers, I really felt like some things needed to be said, so there are some slight spoilers in this review. They have been marked accordingly.*
Take a Seat, It’s About to Get Real…
I’ve never read Go Ask Alice. While it seems intriguing, drugs are one of my things I tend to shy away from in my reading material. Reading about them triggers my anxiety, so I’d rather just not go there. And then I heard that Go Ask Alice wasn’t actually a true story, so that made me not really interested to read it at all. But when Letting Ana Go, a book that claims to be “in the tradition of Go Ask Alice“, showed up at my house, I was quite interested. (BTW, this was the first book from a publisher that just showed up without me expecting it! Yippee! Thanks, Simon Pulse!)
First of all, this one’s not about drugs, but about a teen dealing with an eating disorder. And while I’ve never had anorexia, I am like every other girl out there–I have at least a bit of an issue with my weight. We all face this at one point or another, whether we feel like we need to be in better shape for sports (which is how it starts for the main character in Letting Ana Go), or we feel like we need to be a certain weight to be attractive (which is where it leads in this book), or we feel like we need to be a certain weight to be healthy (which is where I currently stand)–we’ve all been there, all of us women, haven’t we? Society has made our body image such a part of our gender that it’s inescapable. We may not obsess about our weight on a daily basis, but we think about it when we go shopping for clothes, when we hang out with our friends, when our children comment on our curves.
I have to admit, there were times that this book still triggered a bit of my anxiety. But I pushed through because I thought it was an important book to read. And that’s how I ultimately feel about it: it’s important for all women, teens and older (and maybe a little younger) to read this book, and others like it. We need to see how far society can push us, how warped our mentalities can become, all in the name of a perfect body.
The only thing I wish had been different about this book, (SPOILER AHEAD, sorry. Skip down to the next paragraph to avoid spoilers.) is that I wish someone–ANYONE–would have really driven home the idea that a good man (or woman) will not leave you just because you are overweight. The father in this book is not a great man, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that the main character (whose name is never revealed) BELIEVED that the reason her father left her mother was because her mother was overweight. So whether the father actually left the mother for that reason or not, someone really should have told the main character that not everyone is going to leave you because of your weight. Teen girls (and adults, for that matter) need to hear that message.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things in this book that I totally disagreed with, but I recognize that they are things that people out there actually believe. There are women and girls out there that believe they have to stay stick thin to keep their significant other, or to even attract one. There are women and girls out there that think the only way to get ahead in life is to be underweight. There are women and girls out there that see those too-thin actresses and models and think that that’s the way they’re supposed to look. I completely disagree with all of these, but that doesn’t mean that’s not what some people think. And that’s what needs to change.
And I think that Letting Ana Go is a good book for women (and men, too!) to read to maybe realize what’s going on. It’s set in 2012 and 2013 so it’s completely relatable for teens (they use apps on their phones to track their calories, etc.), so they won’t be thinking it’s something that used to happen. This happens now, every day. And not just to girls, but to boys, too. I’m not sure if this is a true story (I’m assuming it’s not, but it could be), but that’s irrelevant. This is a story that needs to be told over and over again, until we as women break through that box that society has forced us in, and realize that our worth is not determined by our weight.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher (thanks again, Simon Pulse!) in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.