Letting Ana Go by Anonymous
Published by Simon Pulse, 2013
In the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky, a harrowing account of anorexia and addiction.
She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.
But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt.
But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…
Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind.
Letting Ana Go is the story of a girl who spirals into anorexia. It is told in diary format with Ana telling us how much she weighs at the start of each entry. The diet starts off as a way to help her friend loose some weight to get the lead role as a ballerina, but soon the both of them are so caught up in their image they can't stop, not even when it becomes life threatening.
The tale is told through diary format but luckily the author does not take this too far. The writing is more in the form of a regular novel with subtle touches to makes the reader believe this is a diary. So the writing flows very nicely and is easy to read. No fake spelling mistakes or anything of that nature. Unfortunately the one thing that took away from the diary format was the author trying not to name pop culture things. For example, it was clear at one point that Ana was talking about watching the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was so obvious. Yet she describes it as if she had no idea what it was called (even though she saw it in the theatre, which would have made that impossible). A teenage girl would not do this. She would mention everything by name.
On to the actual plot and characters... I picked up this book because I don't know a lot about anorexia. So it was important to me that the characters and plot take me down the road of understanding. At first I wasn't sure if it was going to do that. It looked like it would turn out to be just the story of a girl who likes to diet and looses a little too much weight. But I was incredibly wrong. Ana yoyo's from healthy to life threatening a few times, showing how difficult it is to actually overcome this disease. The story also showed how important relationships are. With her mother being a bit overweight, and her father leaving, she starts to fear her boyfriend leaving. And this helps her to justify what she is doing by refusing to get help.
Also, it shows just how important it is for someone with this disease to have a strong support group. Despite having people all around her who cared about her - Jack (her boyfriend), Vanessa (one of her best friends), her mother (a nurse), her track coach, and her doctors - they were not enough. I feel like part of this was people letting her BS them. They knew what she was doing and backed off when she got mad at them. Or like her mother, the relationship was already so broken her support didn't help much. Then everyone was constantly being undermined by Jill (her other anorexic friend) who kept showing her how to get around the help they were trying to give her.
In the end I loved this book. I can't get it out of my head. The story was haunting. Not just because of the plot but because I feel like I really got into the head of someone struggling with this disease. And I really understand how it is a disease. My one problem with it, and the reason I am hesitating from giving it a perfect rating is I'm not exactly sure where it fits in. Is it a story for parents? The parents here didn't exactly show how to actually help in this situation, so I don't know. Is it a story for teens? This so clearly shows how little control people have over this disease, so I'm not sure how it could help. Is it an awareness story? Maybe but then...shouldn't it try to show how people can provide strong support?
I'm not really sure who it's for. But it was an eye-opening experience. And I'm so glad I read this because I feel like despite all that it's also a story that you should read if you have the chance. Amazing.
Oh yeah...and the ending was...perfect.
And a note: Even though the author is called "Anonymous", the original story, Go Ask Alice was proven to be written by author Beatrice Sparks. I don't know who the author is this particular book is.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.