Tweens deal with eating disorders in 'Perfect' - The Echo News
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Tweens deal with eating disorders in ‘Perfect’

Is ‘Perfect’ really that perfect?

“Perfect” is a novel for teens dealing with eating disorders. (Photograph provided by Megan Alms)

“Perfect” is a novel for teens dealing with eating disorders. (Photograph provided by Megan Alms)

By Megan Alms | Contributor

Ever since her father died, Isabelle Lee has struggled to cope with loss.

Lee’s mother is always sad, her sister seems lost and Lee has developed an eating disorder.

Forced to join an eating disorder therapy group, Lee becomes unlikely friends with Ashley, the most popular girl in middle school. Together, they struggle through their illness and cope with the harsh realities of life. Natasha Friend’s “Perfect” embraces the topics of eating disorders, depression, popularity, loss, group therapy, family dynamics and healing.

Friend looks into many difficult topics in a gentle but jarring way. She discusses ideas that cannot be approached easily, but explains them well. As an adult reader, I found this book lacking in depth at times, but I believe it would approach tween girls right where they are and give them an introduction to the concept of eating disorders. Lee has a strong, witty tween voice that captures the reader’s attention and connection.

My biggest concern with this book was its lack of resolution. The story ends with Lee starting on her path to recovery in light of both her eating disorder and grief. But the story needed to include more of Lee’s steps toward health. Recovering from an eating disorder is not a fast or easy process, and this would have been a valuable aspect of her journey to read about.

“Perfect” doesn’t exactly tell the reader what harm an eating disorder can cause; it only shows the actual illness. I worry this approach gives readers ideas rather than solutions — shows them methods to try rather than inform them of the dangers these methods pose.

Overall, this was a quick read and worth the time investment. But if you give this book to a tween, I would recommend initiating a follow-up conversation to make sure the points came across correctly.

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