24 July 2010

Day 119: Brave Girl Eating

Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown.  ISBN: 9780061725470 (advanced reader copy, publishes in September 2010).

I'm not putting the cover where I normally do because I want to show you a little something that makes me slightly ill.

Okay.  Here it is:
Yup.  Nothing like having a book cover for anorexia piggy back off of a book about creepy, emotionally abusive stalker vampires.  I accept that the apple image is pretty common thanks to some artist figuring that it must've been an apple that was the forbidden fruit.  But if you think about the foods that an anorexic would find forbidden, I don't think apples are high on the list given that they're mostly comprised of cellulose.*  And if she's a brave girl eating, I think I would have found the cover more compelling if we could see her face and if she had a loaded fork (maybe with spaghetti that's turning into snakes, that would really represent anorexia to me).  This is so passive; the headless girl is offering us the food when she should be confronting her fear and eating it herself.

The whole point of this book is to supposedly humanize one particular family and their struggle with anorexia.  Why would you have such a bland cover as this?  Whereas the point of having photographs and videos of people with their heads cut out of the frame is to encourage feelings of anonymity.  We don't know these people, we've never known them, and even if we do there's no way to recognize them so they could be anyone.  Somehow I don't think that was the message that Brown was trying to convey.

For some reason these two covers in conjunction made me think of a webcomic strip I saw recently, I'm actually just going to link to it because it's a full panel: Sucks to Be Weegie.**

Yeah, that's about right.  This is the message my brain is hammering into my head between these two books.  If I want a super hot overly obsessive boyfriend who probably thinks I'm interchangeable with any other girl then I apparently need to be as skinny as possible.  Love that message.  I know I'm seeing things that aren't there, but I wish, wish, wish that publishers would think about more than "This cover will make my book sell" when they select cover art.

I wish our culture wasn't obsessed with deadly thinness, or with sparkly vampires.  I wonder how many girls are starving themselves (physically, emotionally, from actual healthy relationships or potential relationships) because they're waiting for their Edward.  And really Meyer is all about the emotional anorexia.  She's teaching girls not to have feelings or thoughts for anyone but Edward, who is obviously not good for us (you can argue with me, but a hoard of hungry vampires and a vampire tooth cesarean say otherwise).  We can love the things that are bad for us, but that doesn't mean we need to or should accept them into our lives.

*Added 7/27/2010.  One of my readers brought it to my attention that all foods are forbidden.  I specifically had in mind the passages in the book where Kitty would bargain with her parents to purchase or buy food that would not assist with her recovery so that even when she was eating, it wasn't "as bad."  I did not mean to imply that anorexics are thin because they only eat healthy food or any other nonsense.  I recognize it as the legitimate and terrible disease that it is.
**The rest of Kevin Bolk's work can be found on his deviant art page.


  1. Dear Amy,
    As you know, authors don't get to choose their book covers.

    I'm more interested in what you think of what's inside than what the publisher chose for the cover.

    Harriet Brown
    author, Brave Girl Eating

  2. Ms. Brown,

    My Reviews can be found on the review page (http://librarianslifeinbooks.blogspot.com/p/book-reviews.html).

    Or more easily at Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3302957).

    The intention of this blog is not to review books, but to share my reflections based on what the books (interior and exterior content) provokes.


    Amy L. Campbell
    author, A Librarian's Life in Books

  3. PS:

    Perhaps you would like to write a guest post about the process of writing this memoir and what it means to you?

    If interested, please email me at acampb8@kent.edu.

  4. I feel compelled to correct a misconception here.
    From this post: "But if you think about the foods that an anorexic would find forbidden, I don't think apples are high on the list given that they're mostly comprised of cellulose."

    People with anorexia typically find ALL food forbidden, regardless of whether it's "healthy."

  5. Lauren,

    You're right. I should have made a footnote. I was specifically referring to the healthier food because in "Brave Girl Eating" Kitty frequently bargains with her parents to eat or purchase the foods that are least likely to lead to her recovery. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I will include the footnote.


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