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The Year I Didn't Eat

Published by Yellow Jacket
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

This heartfelt, captivating novel chronicles a year in the life of 14-year-old Max as he struggles with anorexia.

Dear Ana,

Some days are normal. Some days, everything is OK, and I eat three square meals, pretty much, even if those squares are ridiculously small squares.

Some days, I can almost pretend there's nothing wrong.

Fourteen-year-old Max doesn't like to eat, and the only one he can confess his true feelings to is Ana---also known as his eating disorder, anorexia. In a journal that his therapist makes him keep, he tells Ana his unfiltered thoughts and fears while also keeping track of his food intake. But Ana's presence has leapt off the page and into his head, as she feeds upon all of his fears and amplifies them.

When Max's older brother Robin gives him a geocache box, it becomes a safe place where Max stores his journal, but someone finds it and starts writing to him, signing it with "E." Is it a joke? Could it be the new girl at school, Evie, who has taken an interest in Max? Although Max is unsure of the secret writer's identity, he takes comfort in the words that appear in his journal as they continually confide in one another about their problems.

As Max's eating disorder intensifies, his family unit fractures. His parents and brother are stressed and strained as they attempt to deal with the elephant in the room. When Robin leaves home, Max is left with two parents who are on the verge of splitting up. Max thought he could handle his anorexia, but as time goes on, he feels himself losing any semblance of control.

Will anorexia continue to rule Max's life, or will he be able to find a way to live around his eating disorder?

The Year I Didn't Eat is an unforgettable novel that is haunting, moving, and inspiring.

Max Howarth is a 14-year-old high schooler with anorexia nervosa. Max lives in a small town in the west of England with his parents and his 21-year-old brother, Robin, an enthusiastic outdoorsman. About a year ago Max developed anorexia. His parents aren't sure how to help, but Robin cracks jokes and smooths over awkward situations. Robin also introduces Max to geocaching at Christmas, when the story opens. Max's two friends, Stu and Ram, know nothing about his anorexia because Max doesn't think they could possibly understand. He isn't honest with his therapist either, instead writing letters (interspersed throughout) in his secret journal to "Ana" (short for anorexia), telling "her" how she makes him feel. When his mother finds his journal, a terrified Max hides it in his geocache. When he returns for it he finds it's no longer there. In its place is a letter of personal confessions from "E," who he believes is Evie, the new girl at school. But is it? Pollen writes from the inside about anorexia, effectively communicating the feelings, obsessions, and difficulties Max experiences and making it clear that it is an equal-opportunity disorder. Ana's scornful voice frequently breaks into Max's narration, a device that combines with his meticulous calorie counting to place readers in his head. The book is default white, with nonwhite ethnicity primarily conveyed through naming convention; Ram is Muslim. A concluding author's note provides encouragement. Readers will appreciate the raw and real portrayal of anorexia from a group often left out of the conversation. (Fiction. 10-16)

– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW