Deborah Hautzig,
Second Star to the Right
(Puffin, 1999)

This book was very cheerful, something I wouldn't expect from a story dealing with such a serious subject, and written by an author who was, at the time of the writing, going through her own battle with anorexia. I know the author fought this debilitating disorder for many years and is therefore well qualified to speak on the subject, but I don't feel she succeeded in giving an in-depth look at the inner turmoil of the anorexic.

The fictional subject, Leslie, seems well-adjusted and happy, with a stable home life and an exceptionally close relationship with her mother. However, Leslie does not know where she ends and her mother begins, and herein lies to root of Leslie's problem. Otherwise, we're only given hints as to the other internal problems Leslie deals with. She goes on a diet, which then leads to her totally giving up eating, but we're not really shown the inner process that would explain this result.

Leslie has friends and has no problem fitting in. Even the hospital experience is depicted as fun, and she has no trouble making plenty of new friends in the hospital right away. Although it is true that many anorexics look happy and seem popular from the outside, most feel a sense of isolation and disconnectedness that is not revealed within Leslie. The seriousness of the development of anorexia is not adequately portrayed here.

This is more of a superficial look at anorexia, with the intricacies of the disorder only implied. Leslie's difficulties are not well-defined, and the ending leaves us up in the air. The book simply concludes with Leslie's resolve to recover, and we are left with little inkling as to what is really next for Leslie. What was happening in therapy? Was it successful at all? Did she gain any insight into the cause of her condition? This is too simple a story that ends with little resolution. For concerned friends and family members seeking insight, I would recommend The Best Little Girl in the World before this one.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

5 March 2011

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