Rating: 4 stars
“Bad things will happen to you and they won’t be your fault. Life is a miserable shit-show for lots of very good people. Lots of very evil people have it easy in life. When bad things happen, it doesn’t help to blame yourself or wish you’d done something differently, or shake your fists at the sky. Accept that the bad things happened, but do not allow them to continue to hurt you. Bad things will also happen to you that will be your fault. Part of being Better is being able to tell the difference.”
I think this book is wonderful because it opens your mind to many topics such as suicide and anorexia. I think this book is told in a perfect perspective because if it was in anything other than first person, the message of this story would be completely different. I say this because no one else could know what goes on in the mind of someone who is mentally ill, no one but Matt himself.
Matt is a poor, gay, Jewish, anorexic teenage boy struggling his way through high school. His sister Maya has disappeared and his mother is hanging onto her job by a string. Matt is battling his own war within himself – his eating disorder, his romantic endeavors and the people he has encountered. Matt refuses to let go of the mystery of the disappearance of his sister, trying to make connections to why she left, and he realizes it connects to a boy named Tariq.
Matt is so desperate to figure out the world, and himself included. As the book progresses, he begins to lose himself because of his mind and his belief that his eating disorder gives him special abilities.
“The strongest people aren’t the ones who are born strong. They’re the ones who know what it’s like to be weak and have a reason to get stronger. The ones who’ve been hurt. Who’ve had things they love taken from them. The ones with something to fight for.”
I appreciated the fact that the author made a male character have an eating disorder because not many people in society think that boys can develop eating disorders, so I think he makes a good depiction of the eating disorder itself. Matt tries to use it as a coping mechanism for him to distract himself from his surroundings. He believes that he has complete control over his body, but only for the amount of time then things start to slowly unravel and get out of hand.
His relationship with Tariq is special, I liked how they were together but when Matt really needed help, I think it was best for them to be a part because he needed to figure out how he can control himself with his eating and taking on another person, in my opinion probably would have been too much for him to take.
I didn’t like the sudden appearance of his sister, and I understand that she had her story but I feel like the way she came back was sudden because she came back right as Matt was in the hospital, getting help.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I thought it was accurate to someone who has an eating disorder.
“This is the hardest rule. The one I still have to keep repeating. The one I accept, on an intellectual level, but still cannot truly believe. Your body is just a thing. Whether it’s strong or weak or beautiful or ugly is all in your head. In your mind.”