29 June 2013

Review: Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price

Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price

Published: 14 June 2012 by Razorbill

Pages: 272 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Own library


Zoe knows she doesn’t belong in a hospital—so why is she in one?

Twin Birch isn’t just any hospital. It’s a strange mansion populated by unnerving staff and glassy-eyed patients. It’s a place for girls with serious problems; skinny, spindly girls who have a penchant for harming themselves.

Zoe isn’t like them. And she can’t figure out why she was sent here. Writing letters to her best friend Elise keep her sane, grounded in the memories of her past—but mired in them, too. Elise never writes back.

Zoe is lost without her, unsure of how to navigate tenuous new friendships and bizarre rules without Elise by her side. But as her letters intertwine with journal entries chronicling her mysterious life at Twin Birch, another narrative unfolds. The hidden story of a complicated friendship; of the choices we make, the truths we tell others, and the lies we tell ourselves. The story of a friendship that has the potential to both save—and damage beyond repair. And Zoe finds she must confront the truth about her past once and for all, before she can finally let go.

My Thoughts

I've read a fair share of YA 'issue' books in the past, but Zoe Letting Go is the first one I've read that deals directly with eating disorders.  And unlike many issues books, eating disorders is something we can all probably relate to a little - that voice inside our heads that tells us we really shouldn't have that second piece of cake, a crash diet before we go on holidays to look better in a swimsuit - food, unfortunately, can have a pretty big grip on our lives at one time or another.

Zoe Letting Go begins with Zoe being admitted to Twin Birch, a treatment centre for eating disorders, without actually knowing that is why she is there, and alternates between letters to her best friend, Elise, and diary entries detailing the treatment, other patients and internal struggles that Zoe goes through without even really realising it.

Although not an outstandingly individual character, Zoe represents a huge chunk of teenage society - she's not popular and not a total outcast, she has one very close friend and a few casual acquaintances, and is an average student.  And it is only as her time at Twin Birch progresses that the underlying issues of her life really come to the surface, bit by bit.

Zoe Letting Go is an intense read - although there is very little 'action' as such, the tension Zoe feels between herself, Elise and the other patients makes for a very readable story, and I read the whole book in a single sitting because it was a little like watching a train wreck - I was shocked, but I couldn't look away.

My one and only niggle was that I couldn't really understand the reaction of Zoe's mother to her daughter's obviously escalating problems, and that the only solution that seemed to be tried was admitting her directly to a very exclusive program far from home.

Nora Price's writing style is very easy to read - there is emotion and pain between the lines, and as Zoe spills out her secrets in the pages of her diary I could feel the tension building up to the climax of the story, which completely took me by surprise.

Zoe Letting Go is a book that I'm very glad I read - it's shockingly intimate and compulsive reading.

1 comment:

  1. Having dealt with/still dealing with eating disorders, I am always weary when it comes to these types of books. But I have been wanting to read this one for a while.

    Great, great review!



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