A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jen Petro-Roy's Good Enough is about a 12-year-old girl, Riley, who's in treatment for anorexia. Because the book is written as her journal entries, readers get a look at how the mind of an eating-disorder patient works. The story covers Riley's 53 days of in-patient treatment and the difficult emotional work she does while she's there. Family dynamics play a huge role in Riley's emotional life, and the book shows how the words and actions of others can unintentionally derail a person's life. There are a few incidents of verbal bullying and infrequent strong language (including "crap," "butt," and "God") but no sexual content or substance use. The book provides many good discussion points for families around parent-child relationships, self-esteem, healthy habits, and communication.
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What's the story?
GOOD ENOUGH tells the story of 12-year-old Riley's treatment for anorexia and her emotional journey to wellness. It's told through Riley's journal entries during her stay in an eating disorder ward. The reader follows along with Riley as she figures out how her issues developed and the work she'll need to do to overcome them. Recovery is not a straight line, which can be frustrating for anyone, especially a middle-school girl who is just learning about herself and what motivates her. She is a reluctant patient at first, but as she works through all the necessary steps, she starts to look at herself and her life differently. She comes to understand the effect her parents and schoolmates have on her, where things in her life took a turn, and how to get back to who she wants to be. Doing all this emotional work is hard enough, but doing it among girls who have their own issues and some who want to sabotage her adds another level of difficulty but also another opportunity to learn about life and herself.
Is it any good?
This touching and realistic look at a 12 year old in recovery for an eating disorder does a great job of not shying way from hard truths while also being an accessible, enjoyable read. In Good Enough, author Jen Petro-Roy, an eating disorder survivor, gets deep into the hard emotional work it takes to get better and does it in a way that will resonate with middle-grade and younger readers. Many other YA novels about eating disorders focus on older teens and understandably have more adult content as a result, so Good Enough hits a much-needed sweet spot with its focus on 12-year-old Riley and the issues she faces as she's entering her teen years.
The story is told through her journal entries. In the early chapters, her sarcastic defensiveness starts to wear thin, but as she works through recovery she grows and her insights are wonderful to follow. The book hits on many important points, including showing how hard recovery is and that living life after recovery can be even harder; how well meaning parents can still mess up a kid; and the power others' words can have on the psyche. The latter isn't unusual in the middle school years, but verbal bullying and casual cruelty can have lasting effects, and the story shows this to great effect. The best part of Good Enough and its journal format is the insight it gives into the brain of anorexics, especially the negative self-talk and the desire for control over this one aspect of their lives. The only downside to the journal format is that the other characters -- parents, sibling, friends, staff -- don't quite come alive, but that is a small point in an overall educational and entertaining read.
Talk to your kids about ...
How do the words and actions of others (family, friends, bullies) affect the way you behave? Would mean comments about your body make you change the way you eat? Is some of the "helpful advice" you receive actually hurtful? How can you counter behaviors and comments that end up hurting you?
Do you think this book's discussion of eating disorders will help prevent them (and provide support for victims)? Or do books like these cause more teens to try out the methods described here? What responsibility does an author have for what her readers do after reading her book?
- Author: Jen Petro-Roy
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: February 19, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 11
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 6, 2020
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