The Year I Didn’t Eat: A Book Review

For this last post for Counseling Awareness Month, I’m excited to share a book review of Samuel Pollen’s The Year I Didn’t Eat.

What is the book about?

Max is a 14-year old in the 9th grade. He has friends, a supportive family, and a dog. But a year ago, someone disrupted life as he knew it. Her name is Ana… anorexia.

The book is a novel but is based on insights gained from the author’s own experiences with an eating disorder. It is rare to see eating disorders discussed from the male perspective but The Year I Didn’t Eat shows that eating disorders, one of the most deadly mental health conditions, don’t discriminate by age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status.

Noteworthy quotes

“I call her Ana. Her, it: the monster inside me. The voice inside my head.”

“There are 7 billion people on this planet, and somehow, the only person I can actually talk to is you.”

“Getting angry over nothing is my specialty these days.”

“I’m stuck with you, 24/7, whether I like it or not.”

“That’s something a lot of people don’t get: anorexia hurts. Only, it’s a kind of pain you can’t really describe. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s like trying to explain color to someone who’s never seen color before.”

“One thing you learn when you’re anorexic is: hunger doesn’t go in one direction. It peaks and it dips: you can be ravenous one moment and then, an hour later you barely feel like eating. And if you ride the wave, you can get away with eating less.”

“When you’re anorexic, the line between happiness and sadness is thinner than spider silk. It takes the tiniest thought, the smallest push, to move you from one to the other.”

“Someone doesn’t need to understand you to save your life. They just need to care.”

Reflections

As a therapist who has worked with eating disorders, this book helped me to better empathize with the various struggles that people with disordered eating are going through. As I read this book, I was better able to understand my wife, as she struggled with atypical anorexia in her teen years. She read the book as well and resonated with the content.

From a mental health perspective, I’m glad that the author covers a variety of treatment options; more specifically, residential treatment, outpatient therapy, nutrition assistance, etc. From working with clients struggling with eating disorders, I know that it takes a multidisciplinary team to fight these deadly disorders. I’m glad that the author normalizes the importance of getting help.

Rating

I give this book 5/5 stars because it is well-written, informative, and entertaining, despite the heavy subject matter. The book is written for age 14+; however, in my opinion, I would recommend that therapists and parents read the book for themselves before giving it to a young person to read. I say this because it is a serious topic and could be triggering to those struggling with an active eating disorder. I would definitely recommend this book to parents, therapists, or anyone that loves someone who struggles with an eating disorder. You can find this book here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, there is hope! Find a therapist or contact the National Eating Disorders Association for guidance.

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