Libri Dilectio: Book Review: Hunger

09 September 2010

Book Review: Hunger

Hunger, Jackie Morse Kessler
(Gr 9+)

Coming 18 October 2010. Harcourt Graphia
ARC provided by publisher.

Lisabeth is seventeen and she hates the way she looks. She knows she’s fat and that if she can just lose those last pounds, then she’ll be pretty. Only problem is, no one else can see it. Not her former best friend, or her parents, or her boyfriend, but Lisa knows. She counts every calorie that goes into her mouth, restricting her diet more and more while exercising off the little that she does eat. Her life is in a downward spiral until the night a strange man comes to her home and says, “Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.” Now Lisa is Famine, one of the four horseman of the apocalypse and it isn’t just her food she has to worry about.

This is a very unique look at anorexia and the effects it has on a person. The story jumps back and forth from realistic fiction to fantasy without ever really being either. Lisa’s life as Famine, the Black Rider, is separate from her life as Lisa the girl who won’t eat, but also inextricably linked. Frankly, it made the story interesting and a little confusing. Not so much because I wasn’t sure what was going on, but more that my brain was unsure how to react.

Lisa is a sympathetic character who readers will be drawn to right away. Her struggles feel real, in that she still loves food and wants to be normal, but her insecurities plague her and keep her fighting to lose more and more weight. I found her relationship with her boyfriend to be really interesting. I had trouble figuring out what he knew about her or what he suspected.

The supernatural elements of the story are best illustrated by Lisa’s horse. As the horse of a rider of the apocalypse, he’s invisible to all mortals, but always there – even if the only one who knows is Lisa. He stands in her yard, just on the outskirts of normal, waiting to take her to far away places to do her work as famine. Like the horse, the fantasy elements cling to the edges of the novel, waiting to jump out in the spotlight and take the reader somewhere they haven’t been before.

Overall this was an enjoyable story and a very quick read. Look for it on shelves in October!

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