Page 45 Review by Stephen
An autobiographical account of one woman's debilitating battle with anorexia and bulimia, there will be much here, I'm sure, to provide empathy to fellow suffers and explanations to their friends. It seems an almost hopeless, never-ending struggle once the conditioning and consequent condition sets in, and one thing that stood out for me amongst many was that it's more about self-image - a misperception of what one's own body actually looks like - than a desperate desire to impress potential suitors with one's look. Even when Lesley's emaciation, her basic lack of nutrition and energy, causes her to pass out and become painfully ill, it is only because of the kindness of strangers or persistent counselling that any progress is made in raising her self-awareness and then self-control, and even then there are setbacks aplenty.
The art is equally frail with thin lines and the faintest of shading, and the stark depiction of Lesley's withered and sore existence, teetering on the edge of total collapse whilst desperately trying to keep up appearances and keep hold of her job, is startling.
Unlike Rosalind Penfold's DRAGONSLIPPERS: THIS IS WHAT AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP LOOKS LIKE, I'm not sure how much I learned from this, except that the warping of one's self-image seems to start to take hold when the body changes during puberty and the natural, accompanying growth spurt is exaggerated by the eye of its beholder. Teenagers are pretty private people in the first place, parents' strictures perceived as being unreasonable and out of all proportion, and here parental concern is met with an increasingly furtive determination to stave off the young body's development. Tragically, she even manages to move out on her own.
"Catch it early on" is the advice for every medical condition, and I really do wish I'd read this before this week's trip to advise 30 school librarians on stocking their shelves with graphic novels; this should be bought in all over the country and as soon as humanly possible because what it does share with DRAGONSLIPPERS is the same effect of holding up a mirror to those potentially unaware of their own plight, or the plight of their sons, daughters or pupils.