Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: Starving Hearts

This novel appears to have been written as a therapeutic exercise. The plot sounded interesting to me, but the book comes complete with pages and pages of blurbs from therapists about the therapeutic value of the text. So, I approached reading the book with a bit of trepidation.

I did find the plot to be engaging. Susan Talberg, coming of age in the 1950s, is overshadowed by her abusive mother and bratty sister. To cope with her family issues she falls into anorexia and bulimia. The trajectory will sound familiar: controlling food is the only way that Susan feels she can control her life. Over the course of the book the reader discovers that Susan's mother is a miserable woman with food issues of her own. Completely beaten down by her useless family, Susan's life revolves around sustaining her eating disorders and dealing with her abusive husband.

I would rate this book as acceptable. The plot is okay, but nothing special or earth-shattering. The book will likely be of most interest to those dealing with issues surrounding eating disorders in their own lives. This is not transcendent fiction; it is a story that deals with a specific issue. I suspect I might have enjoyed a memoir by Miller more than I did this book. Miller suggests in her acknowledgments that she has been through a similar series of struggles, and a memoir might have allowed for deeper insight than what this fictional story can offer.

Lynn Ruth Miller, Starving Hearts (Excentrix, 2000) ISBN: 061511671X

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