Review: What I Lost – Alexandra Ballard

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Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publication Date: June 6th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Format: Hardcover copy I purchased myself. 

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

(From goodreads.com)


Content warnings: eating disorders (very detailed descriptions, weight talk etc), self-harm, anxiety, depression, mental health. 

Holy crap this book. I don’t know if I just picked it up at the right time or what but it just resonated with me and I loved it. It’s raw and unfiltered but honestly just brilliant. That ending. The ending was what I needed to read, put it that way. No spoilers, don’t worry!

I loved the growth of Elizabeth as the story progresses. We hear her thoughts change and develop as time goes on, and what she learns in the process. I loved this. Nothing felt forced, she didn’t magically get better, it was real. It felt real. I have no experience of inpatient ED treatment so cannot comment on that aspect specifically, but her thought processes nonetheless felt genuine.

The friendships she made were so so beautiful and I loved each and every one of her friends. SHE HAD GOOD FRIENDS. I swear there are so many books out there which focus on mental health where the friends are just absent, but I loved her friends here. It was such a wonderful addition to the story that she still had contact with her friends from school. 

The mystery packages added an extra dimension to the story which held my interest but didn’t overshadow the main focus (Elizabeth’s recovery) which I did initially worry would happen. I loved the outcome, but will say no more about it. 

The focus on family was extremely well done too; everyone’s situation was different but shown with empathy and they felt genuine. No perfect families were included, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Everyone has their own struggles and it takes a lot for someone to recognise theirs and this was explored a lot throughout this novel. 

This review is one long gushing mess, and for that, I apologise. As long as it’s safe for you to do so, I strongly encourage you to pick this one up! I hadn’t heard of it before I stumbled upon it on Amazon, but it’s so, so worth a read. The representation (from my experience – though I don’t want to go into that too much) is extremely well done and I cannot recommend this book enough if you want a book about eating disorders. 

Rating: 5 / 5 🌟 

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Book Unhaul – Round Three

And here I bring you my third unhaul of the summer. Considering I never really get rid of books, I’m doing exceptionally well I’d say!

They are all for sale on my depop shop, but if you’re interested but don’t have depop, feel free to leave a comment or message me on Instagram (@bookographic) or Twitter (@nats_cotterill).

  • Ketchup Clouds – Annabel Pitcher
  • My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher
  • Ashes – Ilsa J. Bick
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby
  • After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
  • Relativity – Antonia Hayes
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
  • Legend, Prodigy, and Champion – Marie Lu
  • The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey
  • The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Orbiting Jupiter – Gary D. Schmidt
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin
  • Zac & Mia – A. J. Betts
  • The Letter – Katheryn Hughes
  • The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year – Sue Townsend

 

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A Post of Rambling Thoughts

I just felt like writing this post, though I have no clue where it is going to go. I’m unwell; after about two years of no major flares, my autoimmune condition has decided to rear its head again and I’m feeling all round a bit meh.

I’ve been in a weird mood all day: floating through motions but refreshing every social media site in the hope of someone saying something or something happening. I don’t know what. I don’t think I even care.

Days like this are tough. On the outside I look absolutely fine, but I’m, well, not. It could be nothing; I could be worrying about something that will be completely gone tomorrow morning and I’ll get up, go to the gym and feel great. Or I could need prescription strength painkillers to simply walk out of my room. At this point, I don’t know, and that’s the worst bit.

I guess one way of describing it is like the feeling you get when you’re coming down with a cold. You mentally note to add more tissues to your bag and stock up on flu medicine. Except it’s worse. Because a cold is normal – I can say to someone ‘oh I have a cold’ and they get it. When I say ‘I have a crap immune system’ they go ‘same’. But what I mean is every so often it literally attacks itself, but hey. It’s easier just to nod.

‘You don’t look ill’ is always a classic. I remember someone saying that to me when they came around to my house with my boyfriend at the time to drop off some work, as I was off school for two weeks after an entire summer of being stuck inside, ill. I feel embarrassed explaining, so I don’t. But then I feel embarrassed when I don’t.

With something like this, and I guess it’s similar for many chronic illnesses though I’m only talking about myself here as everyone is different, a mental note to add a packet of tissues or paracetamol to my bag isn’t enough. During one flare I made it around my uni applicant day, I even made it into school (though it was sixth form and I was doing half days and mum bless her came and picked me up / dropped me off). After that applicant day though, I couldn’t move for three days straight. That’s what I need to prepare for.

A week tomorrow, I’m supposed to be heading back to university. I’ll be driving myself, which leads me with my first issue: do I want to drive for three hours pumped full of various medicines? Medicines that make me so sleepy one consultant even asked how I managed to stay awake in the day (energy drinks and caffeine – lots of caffeine. And naps). Then there’s the question of how I will actually cope alone at uni – I’ve never been on my own for a flare before, all the little jobs that I am simply unable to do are done by my mum.

I guess I’m writing this post as it’s a way of getting thoughts out without burdening or ranting at anyone in particular. I don’t seek sympathy, just a place to exercise my thoughts. If this does end up as a full flare, I’ve been through worse ones.

If you’ve made it this far, I can only thank you, and maybe hope you’ve taken something from it.

So I’m going to plan a reading list or something, maybe reread a favourite book to lift my mood. If you have any recommendations of books that talk about chronic illness – maybe have the main character with something, for example – please let me know! I’d prefer YA, but anything is okay really. ☺️

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