Parents' Guide to

What I Lost

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Realistic, uplifting tale of teen in treatment for anorexia.

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Kids say (5 ):

This uplifting and engaging story of a girl battling anorexia is a good choice for teens who like topical reads. In What I Lost, author Alexandra Ballard shows the reader how anorexics' minds work: the mental games they play, how they see themselves, and the negative things they say to themselves. We also see the cultural and social factors that contribute to anorexia. Elizabeth's a smart, funny, kind narrator whom readers will root for as she works through her problems. The other girls in treatment have the same illness but come from different backgrounds and have different battles to deal with. In this way, Ballard shows why treatment is difficult: There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

Elizabeth's difficult relationship with her parents is realistically portrayed. Instead of being the one-dimensional characters often found in YA fiction, her parents are well fleshed-out and grow and change over the course of the book. The subplots around Elizabeth's school friends, ex-boyfriend, and a mystery admirer keep What I Lost from getting too heavy and tough to read. In all, Ballard does a good job of making difficult subject matter enjoyable and engaging.

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