What I Lost

What I Lost

Book - 2017
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When sixteen-year-old Elizabeth is sent to the Wallingfield Psychiatric Facility's Residential Treatment Center, she encounters girls whose problems seem much greater than her own anorexia.
Publisher: New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374304638
Branch Call Number: TF BAL
Characteristics: 390 pages ; 22 cm.


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What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard is a novel that tackles the difficult subject of anorexia. This book is written in first person from the perspective of a girl named Elizabeth, who has recently been checked into a treatment center for eating disorders. Anorexia is a very delicate topic, especially for a YA novel; I believe the author handled this very tactfully and appropriately, showing the readers reality without overdramatizing or glamorizing disordered eating. The story follows Elizabeth’s path to recovery and the issues she faces: from the social issues of living in a treatment center away from school to her own mother’s obsession with skinniness, all while battling her own body dysmorphia. I came across several moments in the book where I felt like I couldn’t understand Elizabeth at all, which is exactly the point of the book. The majority of us cannot comprehend what life is like with an eating disorder and What I Lost helped me to understand the day-to-day struggle anorexic people have with food and their bodies. The ending of the book is realistic in that Elizabeth doesn’t magically shake off the eating disorder that has haunted her for months; instead, she finds hope in what she’s already accomplished and makes a conscious decision to take her recovery one day at a time. I would recommend this book to any teen, especially anyone struggling with body image or disordered eating. -Dana
‘What I lost’ by Alexandra Ballard is a heartbreaking book about Elizabeth, a girl who deals with anorexia and finally gets through pain, depression, suicidal thoughts and gets out on the other side with the support of her family and friends. I read this book out of curiosity as to see how people can deprive themselves of food. Personally, I love eating whatever I want to eat whenever I want to eat without ever thinking twice. So, it was quite a shock when I learned how some girls starve themselves just so that others can view them as perfect and how every single day they fight themselves to not eat any food that can give them calories. What I found pretty interesting was that Amy Winehouse was an anorexic which was pretty shocking that someone of that status can feel the need to please everyone with how thin they look. But that was back then. Today people are much more accepting of how you look and how you feel comfortable. There is a place for everybody in this world, all they have to do is ask for help as it is ok to feel as if you need to please everyone but it is not ok to suffer it alone. What I found pretty shocking was how much I could relate to her despite ever feeling that way. As the book went on, I started understanding how she felt and how it was hard for her to eat even a little without thinking of calories and that was so shocking because I have never known that pain of not eating in my life and to understand that so well through her words, it is truly a book well written with emphasizing words that tells the reader exactly how Elizabeth feels. Alexandra is an amazing author who defines the skill of writing needed to truly make the readers remember your novel. Anyone struggling with anorexia should read this book as it tells us how to get through your emotions and your fearfulness and fighting anorexia head on and kicking it out, to make place for your hopes and your big dreams! - Manraaj Grewal


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