February 5, 2013

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This week, February 3-9, is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  

Although I’m the last person who is really capable of reducing my new book to a single issue, Bone and Bread is, among other things, very much a novel about the impact of an eating disorder not just on an individual, but on a whole family.  Over the past five years, I’ve done a lot of research (as well as a lot of imagining) about what it would feel like to be struggling with this issue or watching a loved one wrestle with one of these illnesses.  I think that the message of NEDIC’s (the National Eating Disorder Information Centre’s) new poster is a good one:  Talking Saves Lives.  

 A great message: Talking Saves Lives.

For Beena and Sadhana (the sister characters in Bone and Bread), the eating disorder slips into their lives into the space left by another loss, and it has an ominous presence throughout the novel.  When it is not being talked about is exactly when it is the most dangerous.  Sadhana and Beena are incredibly close in some ways, but communication, especially about their problems, is not their strong suit.  

Yesterday, I spoke to someone who is reading an Advanced Reading Copy of Bone and Bread, who told me that some of the events in the novel rang true for her as her sister struggled with an eating disorder for 15 years.  (Happily, her sister is now recovered, and aided greatly by a supportive partner.)  I'm really interested in hearing from people as to how the novel may or may not feel true to their real life experiences with their own or a family member's eating disorder.  I tried very hard to get it right, and while there likely isn't a single version of right, I'm still very curious (and a little anxious) to know what readers will think of this aspect of the novel.

This week is a good time to remember that it may be unwise to start overpraising girls who suddenly start losing a lot of weight.  If someone is becoming overly preoccupied with weight and food, focusing on their body and how they look can exacerbate an existing problem that may be taking hold.  It might be time for a conversation about the other things they might be thinking or feeling.

Click here for more of NEDIC's resources on eating disorders.

And here is NEDIC’s resource page for friends and family.

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