A Trick of the Light

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Title: A Trick of the Light
Author: Lois Metzger
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Pages: 208
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Library via Kindle
Rating: 3/5

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.

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This was a very interesting book, and definitely not for the faint of heart. There were a lot of quirky things about it that made it stand out from other books I’ve read about eating disorders, but they didn’t all work for me.

Let’s start with the perspective. This book is technically written in first person, because it’s told by anorexia, but personally it didn’t do much for me. While it was different and creepy, I felt the book could have been just as good from actual third person with the voice showing up in that way. I feel the narrator or protagonist of a story shouldn’t be passive and should be multidimensional, and the voice in Mike’s head wasn’t. I also wished that the voice had asserted itself more often, because sometimes it was jarring to go from essentially straight third-person narrative back into first.

Something this book was very successful at was showing how an eating disorder completely takes over a person’s life. I felt frustrated at times because I felt I didn’t know that much about Mike’s life before the disorder or other things happening during it, but I think that was the point Metzger was trying to get across. She made it so terrifyingly clear that the eating disorder became Mike. He stopped being interested in things and pulled away from family and friends (except Amber, who was indescribably creepy), and was absolutely consumed by the illness.

This intensely scary portrayal of eating disorders made me really uncomfortable, and while that’s usually something I like in a book, the fear this book made me feel prevented me from liking it more. Reading this book will certainly help outsiders understand what happens inside the mind of someone with one of these disorders, but for whatever reason I just found this book hard to stomach, if you’ll pardon the pun.

A Trick of the Light may make you squirm, but I still think it provides a helpful picture of how an eating disorder consumes its victim. Though I can’t really say I actually liked the book, I can say it was successful and well-done and worth a read.

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