About the Book:
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?
This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.
I was not prepared for this book to hit me as hard as it did. This was such a compelling and complex journey for a high school female dealing with anorexia. The stigma on today’s teens to look a certain way is overpowering. I’m surprised there aren’t more stories like this on the market.
Elizabeth dropped 4 sizes in a few short months after a painfully traumatic experience with her now ex-boyfriend. She realized the one thing that she could control in her life was food. Soon it became easier and easier to just not eat, or lie to herself that she was full. This was fueled by her mom’s own silent battle with food restriction. Her mom pushed Elizabeth into “losing just a few pounds to look better”. So who cared if Elizabeth considered dinner six small bites of a banana? Certainly nobody in her household. But things became serious when Elizabeth weighed 90 pounds. She was admitted to a health care facility for treatment.
A very, very little known fact about me is that I have a mild form of anorexia. Mine is nowhere as severe as those talked about in this book but it is real nonetheless. That caused me to connect with Elizabeth on a level I wasn’t ready for. I felt I could completely understand her thoughts and feelings. Her struggle was painful, understandable, and it just felt horribly real. Thankfully Elizabeth was not alone in her treatments. A cast of characters are along for the ride, each with their own demons to slay. They all play a bigger part in Elizabeth realizing what she has done to herself and giving her a glimpse of just how bad she could get if she didn’t do something to try to get better. Please know this story is not just about someone battling anorexia, it is also a bit of a love story. There is some romance that happens and it is super sweet. Elizabeth starts to receive mysterious packages while at the facility and she believes it is her ex-boyfriend sending them. How can her ex-boyfriend send her such loving packages when he is the one that sent her into such a downward spiral? Is it even him sending the packages?
So many questions! Will Elizabeth be able to make enough progress to leave the facility? Will she be able to make the tough food decisions on her own outside? What about her friends at school? This was such an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. I could not put this book down once I started. It was such a powerful read and I hope everyone gives it a chance.
Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master’s from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. What I Lost is Alexandra’s first novel.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of WHAT I LOST, US Only.
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