If there’s one thing I can say about Jackie Morse Kessler’s Hunger, it’s that it made me hungry. There was never not a time when food wasn’t being discussed or thought about, which in turn made me think about food constantly and made me hungry. That’s not to say food was the sole theme throughout the short novel, but it was a key element.
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home—her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power—and the courage to fight her own inner demons?
A wildly original approach to the issue of eating disorders, Hunger is about the struggle to find balance in a world of extremes, and uses fantastic tropes to explore a difficult topic that touches the lives of many teens.
Lisabeth Lewis refuses to realize that she has a problem like many, many other teenage girls. Just because she can’t eat (she’s too fat, she can only be happy once she’s skinny and skinny people don’t have muffin tops) and exercises for hours upon hours every day after she eats doesn’t mean she’s anorexic like her ex-best friend Suzanne said. So on the night that she tried to commit suicide, a strange man appeared at her door and gave her a set of scales before saying, “Thou art Famine.” Famine being one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lisa’s life was changed forever after.
As sad as Hunger is, Jackie Kessler never shies from the harsh truth that comes with an eating disorder. Kessler shows how Lisa pushes everyone away while secretly, desperately wanting someone (her workaholic mother, her daddy whom she idolizes, and her boyfriend who she loves more than life itself) to show that they do care.
As an anorexic, Lisa’s Thin Voice would tell her exactly how many calories were in each piece of food she ever even thought about eating. As Famine, Lisa thought about food at first, as something people were undeserving of. But as Lisa grew into her role as Famine, her views on food slowly changed.
Hunger is a perfect book for any person who either has or has had an eating disorder or for any person who knows someone with it. Remember a portion of proceeds will be donated to the National Eating Disorders Association, so please buy the book and help a noble cause.
Rage (April 2011)