Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers--young men--A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.Read more...
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Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers--young men--A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.
Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they're getting confusing at school. He's losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he's a mess. Then there's a voice in his head. A friend, who's trying to help him get control again. More than that--the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that's holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-04-29
- Reviewer: Staff
The story of 15-year-old Mike Welles’s descent into anorexia is narrated by the disease itself, the insidious voice inside his head preying on his every vulnerability. The voice waits patiently for an opening, which comes in the form of Mike’s parents’ marital crisis and his insecurity around a new crush, pushing Mike to exercise, coaching him to subsist on next to nothing, and encouraging a friendship with Amber, who is also anorexic. Mike drops weight, isolates himself, and yearns to be thinner, which he equates with true strength. A therapist eventually tells Mike that he has been eclipsed and, “the only real thing about you now is your eating disorder.” Metzger, in her first novel since Missing Girls (1999), lays bare this truth in an unsettling story that offers a painful and necessary account of how eating disorders affect boys, too. Metzger’s choice to cast the disease is the role of narrator forces readers inside Mike’s head, an extremely uncomfortable yet illuminating way to examine this lethal disease. Ages 14–up. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (June)
Whispers in the dark
Many YA books tackle the topic of teens with eating disorders and body image issues. Some, like Skinny by Donna Cooner, include insistent internal voices that whisper damaging thoughts to their hosts. Others, like Nothing by Robin Friedman and Purge by Sarah Darer Littman, portray teen boys struggling with anorexia and bulimia. But none combine these elements in quite the same way as Lois Metzger’s A Trick of the Light.
Who is this oddly persuasive voice that’s telling Mike to ignore his best friend and hang out with a strange, too-thin girl instead? Why does the voice encourage Mike to set aside his interest in stop-motion animation and focus entirely on the size and shape of his body? And who could ignore a voice that promises a more exciting life than one spent picking up the pieces left by a depressed mother and an absent father?
Speaking in a simple, hypnotic style, this unnamed voice distorts logic and warps perceptions, offering Mike the illusion of strength and discipline while pulling him further and further into the depths of anorexia. Will Mike eventually succumb to the voice’s unattainable goals? Or will he somehow find a way to silence the very speaker who’s been telling—and controlling—the story all along?
The unusual point of view is reminiscent of the otherworldly and disembodied narrators of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Every Day by David Levithan. However, unlike those more reliable narrators, the voice in A Trick of the Light is manipulative and deceitful, drawing readers into Mike’s head and forcing them to decide for themselves what’s true and what’s twisted. Don’t be misled by the book’s small size: This slim volume packs a big emotional punch.