Ibi Kaslik, 2004. Narrated in alternate chapters by sisters Giselle and Holly, Kaslik’s book is more than just another anorexia problem novel. The author explores what it means to be a sister – the affection, the worry, the competition – without losing sight of the plot.
Giselle, age 22, is home from medical school and struggling with recovery from her eating disorder. She really is eating more, exercising and purging less, but it’s slow and scary. She’s also getting over her ex, Eve, who’s rarely mentioned but seems to haunt Giselle in small but unexpected ways. Little sister Holly is a cross-country runner with problems of her own, like a clumsiness that seems odd until you remember that Holly is deaf in one ear. Then there’s a new man in Giselle’s life, but he seems to have some weird feelings for Holly, who’s fourteen and a little grossed out by the whole thing – yet curious too. There’s also a somewhat unfinished subplot involving the girls’ dad, who (it turns out) may or may not be Giselle’s actual dad, connecting to a convoluted backstory about the girls’ mom being with another man first, but possibly cheating on that guy with the dad? It’s unclear.
Despite all the haziness, I couldn’t put this book down. The vague details remind me of, you know, real life. Lord knows what happened between your parents 22 years ago, or how an unfinished sibling rivalry over Dad’s affection connects to competition for a boyfriend today. Part of me yearns for resolution, but part of me is content with the ambiguity. There are no heroes in this book.
And hurrah for a bisexual character who’s not a freak or a slut! Giselle never questions any part of her sexuality, and that makes sense; she has enough to deal with between med school and anorexia and the boyfriend and her parents. She dates whom she wants to. End of story.