Dear Book Lovers,

I know we wish so much that kids could remain unaware of some issues until they have their own apartment and a day job. But that is not always possible or desirable. Today’s review deals with an issue that is sadly a part of the teen community–eating disorders. A number of current teen novels portray this problem. Not all of them do it with wisdom and sensitivity. Jeanette Hanscome, my guest reviewer, thinks today’s book does.

Skinny by Laura L. Smith — Imagine worrying that brushing your teeth might add calories, or scrubbing off body lotion because it contains cocoa butter. Melissa falls for both in Laura L. Smith’s Skinny, a novel portraying the seductive power of eating disorders (published by NavPress under their Think imprint).

Having struggled with an eating disorder, I am sensitive to how they are portrayed. I found that Skinny avoids many common pitfalls. Laura L. Smith shows innocent attempts to “diet” morphing into obsessive rituals, yet refrained from going into such detail that a vulnerable reader might see the novel as a how-to.

While some scenes felt reminiscent of old afterschool specials, Skinny goes beyond the typical anorexic cliches. Melissa is an everyday Christian teen with loving parents who simply wants to succeed, feels crushed by her first romance, and is driven by perfectionism. Her experience reveals that a girl does not need to starve herself down to 80 pounds to have a problem. Rather than overnight recoveries, readers will see that the need to be thin can develop into a life-long battle.

I would recommend this book for girls 13 and up. Skinny would be a great book for parents to discuss with their daughters. Use caution with girls you suspect might be fighting an eating disorder. It’s best if they avoid reading material that could trigger temptation.

Jeanette Hanscome is the author of three books and over 300 articles and stories. In addition to writing, she offers freelancing editing and critiquing to beginning writers, and teaches workshops on the craft. Jeanette lives with her husband and two sons in Reno, Nevada, where she sings with her church choir and worship team, and is known for having a book recommendation for every occasion.