Sunday 18 February 2018

YA Fiction: Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy

Hot Key Books, €10.99

Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy.
Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy.

Anne Cunningham

Annabel is dead. She has died from anorexia. And she's been given a "case" by her boss in the afterlife. The case is Julia, a girl she barely knew in school, the editor of the school newspaper.

Julia is very much alive. Alive and eating! We meet her as she's busy clearing the fridge at a rate of knots. Annabel is disgusted. This fat girl needs a crash diet because a gal's got to be perfect, right? But Annabel can only reach Julia through her thoughts, and it's a touch-and-go thing. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much.

Poor Annabel has apparently learned nothing even though she's starved herself , literally, to death. Her mission - she thinks - is to make Julia thin; thin to the point of sickness, to the point of no return, to be just like Annabel. She is Julia's broken, defiant and misguided "spirit guide".

A voyage into the terrifying waters of anorexia nervosa, bulimia, obesity, fat-shaming and comfort eating, this is a funny, poignant and ultimately uplifting fable. The disturbing culture of perfectionism, and - very importantly - not just physical perfectionism, is attacked from a multitude of angles.

Hennessy has succeeded in getting right under the skin of her seemingly polar-opposite young protagonists, who it transpires are not so "opposite" after all, and has produced an original and convincing story of what can happen to girls who hurt.

Despite its humour it's a sobering tale, a red light to our image-obsessed, selfie-fuelled daughters. And it's a cracking read.

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