Hanne Arts,
Just Perfect
(CreateSpace, 2014)

I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from this novella, but when I saw all the awards it had won, I was intrigued. When I read the absolutely poetic preface, I was even more intrigued.

I often, like author Hanne Arts when I was her age, wondered what I was still living for. Her experience, couched in the experiences of her fictional surrogate Cristina Jacobs, sounds real. I've been through it. People on the outside don't understand that anorexia isn't something you "decide" to do -- it's in the subconscious. When I was 5-foot-6 and well under 90 pounds and no one noticed, it only reinforced that sense of being invisible that the author describes. The self-loathing, the feeling of isolation, the sense of detachment from the body that you don't even know is there, the feeling of "freakishness." The author describes all of this with words that ring true. She has obviously poured her heart and soul into this tome.

However, I feel the author spent a little too much time on therapy, and not enough time on how she "achieved" her low weight, and what she went through to get there. One minute she is bullied and reacts by self-starving and cutting, then her hip bones are prominent and she is in the hospital. Something is missing. A lot is missing. Yet, to some degree, I can understand her focus on the hospital, so that she could establish the reasons for her healthy relationship with Filip.

Overall, I'm impressed with this book because the author actually managed to draw me into a high school story, and because as a very talented and promising young author, I want to encourage her. Much of this book is too wordy and overly descriptive, and could be made much more pithy. But that's OK. This budding young author is feeling her oats, and I'm sure her writing will mature with time. This is a solid first effort for someone so young.

The book ultimately ends on a note of hope. The closing ties in nicely with the title, and is ripe with the possibility of new beginnings.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

4 November 2017

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new