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.
Kate Midnight Book GirlJune 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm
I don't know if I'll read this, because I swear when I read books about about anorexia it makes me over eat even more to compensate for the character not eating… It's messed up. I did read Go Ask Alice, my dad gave it to me when I was still in grade school. I've always been kind of lame where drugs were concerned because I've read too many books where things did not go well for the drug user, so that curbed my desire to "experiment".
I get your point about your spoiler. Because the problem is that lots of people don't hear the truths they need to. Also, it's possible her dad was some kind of shallow ahole who would leave for the reasons given. The message should be that those people don't matter and we need to stop filling our heads with impossible, unachievable numbers. Unless it's the number of books in our Goodreads challenge. ;)
SarahJune 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm
First of all, I've gotten one surprise ARC in the mail and it was so exciting!
I read Laurie Halse Anderson's "Wintergirls" which is about a girl with anorexia and I found it pretty riveting. I definitely have issues with my weight but have never had an eating disorder.
And that is an important message – I cannot get rid of my baby weight and it drives me crazy but my husband? It doesn't matter to him at all.
BittnerJune 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm
I don't like to read books that focus too much on weight because it makes me, as an overweight woman, uncomfortable. Jennifer Crusie always has her main women characters be on the larger side. She refers to them as "soft" and the main guy characters always go nuts for it. That is about as far into having weight mentioned in my books as I want to go.
UnknownSeptember 11, 2015 at 2:06 am
I just finished the book and of course, my heart is broken for Jack. I've struggled with my weight my whole life and I had gotten into the habit of overeating and throwing up and the way she talks about the "control" of it – I knew exactly what she meant. I always thought, "I could stop this any time. I'm only doing it because I know I overate, that's okay" but if it was okay then why didn't I share it with anyone?
In fact, I barely just shared it with my hubby earlier this year that I was doing this back in 2010. He couldn't believe it but of course he didn't judge me and he loved me even when I was 185lbs. And we worked hard and got in shape together and now we're the healthiest we've ever been but it's still a daily thing for me to keep my awareness up so I don't slip into overeating and then feeling like crap.
I'm excited to share this with my girls (my clients) who I'm helping create healthier, happier habits :) Just know that you're not alone. <3