Lia’s estranged best friend Cassie is found dead in a motel room. What Lia hasn’t told anyone is that Cassie called her 33 times the evening she died; Lia didn’t answer the phone. She also hasn’t mentioned that she and Cassie once made a pact to see who could become the skinniest. At 99 pounds Lia is winning.
This isn’t the first time Lia has been so thin. At 93 pounds she passed out while driving and hit the car in front of her. Cassie was in the vehicle that day. No one was killed, but Lia was put into the New Seasons treatment center, or prison, as she would say:
“Four weeks later, the gates opened. Mom Dr. Marrigan drove me home to her house and we pretended none of it had ever happened, except for the meal plan and the rules and the appointments and the scales and the hurricane of my mother’s disapproval.
Cassie understood. She listened to everything that happened and she told me I was brave….”
Lia’s mother isn’t the only one pretending nothing has happened. Her parents are recently divorced. Her father is married to one of the women with whom he had affairs. Her mother, a busy heart surgeon, never seems to have any time for Lia and her imperfections. But all of them like to pretend that nothing --- including Lia --- has changed. Lia goes to live with her father where she can more easily indulge in her anorexic behaviors.
Laurie Halse Anderson uses strikethroughs and ellipses to show what thoughts Lia is omitting, resisting or rewriting. But the narrative style tightens as the stakes increase. Cassie’s ghost returns to haunt Lia and seems to be luring her back to the hotel. Lia meets the strange boy who found Cassie’s body. Even as she fights to make her body thinner and her will stronger, Lia can’t keep pretending that nothing has changed. She must make a choice between the exquisite control her anorexia demands and the sustenance she requires to live.
Anderson is best known for her popular young adult novels