Title: What I Lost
Author: Alexandra Ballard
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.
*Trigger warning for anorexia/eating disorders*
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?
While books about mental health are currently popping up more and more in YA, I personally haven’t seen many that are tackling the subject of eating disorders. As a result, I went into this book with a fairly clean slate, not really having any other books with similar subject matter to compare it to in my mind.
I don’t have any type of experience with eating disorders or their treatment, so I cannot speak for what is and isn’t realistic in that respect, however I can say that Elizabeth’s voice, along with all of the supporting characters, felt authentic. So authentic, that at times their struggles were extremely difficult to read. Simply reading how someone who is dealing with an eating disorder might view food was an eye opener. What was even more shocking is how they view themselves and their physical experience. With my limited experience, I think that Alexandra Ballard did a wonderful job of portraying the struggle that these characters went through. Even though these girls were in a treatment center, it never felt like their disorders were all that they were. Everyone had their own personalities, lives beyond their struggles.
This book clocks in at about 400 pages, but it doesn’t feel like a long read whatsoever. Alexandra Ballard’s writing style is very simplistic and easy to digest, giving the perfect flow and pacing to a story that otherwise might feel too heavy at times. There wasn’t a single point when I felt like the story was dragging, or felt disjointed.
Overall, What I Lost is an eye opening read, with a cast of characters you truly want the best for by the end. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.