Author: Lois Metzger
Release date: June 18th 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Hardcover, 208 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Mike Welles had everything under control. He was a good student, an outfielder on the baseball team, a good son, a loyal friend. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like a mess.Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, trying to help him regain control. More than that: The voice can guide him to be better and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.Writing with devastating power and precision, acclaimed author Lois Metzger gives us the story of one young man’s battle with his own shadows—a spare, stark, and vital tale of the way in which the things we build to protect ourselves can threaten to destroy us.
It’s not the plot or the characters that will make or break this book for most readers, it’s the choice of a narrator. Instead of making Mike the narrator of this story, Metzger decided to give voice to his eating disorder, a constant nagging presence in his head. In its own words, this voice knows Mike better than he knows himself and it thinks it has Mike’s best interests at heart. The voice is stalkerish and creepy, and even life-threatening at times.
Mike and I are closer than twins; we are one, a team sharing the same space. He is the physical manifestation of me, and I am the best part of him.
This is my first book by Lois Metzger so I can’t be sure whether her writing style is usually this sparse or if she made it so to emphasize the rawness of the story, but I must confess she did an extraordinary job. Her sentences are bared to the bone, her dialogues constructed to resemble a play. By stripping her narration of all that is inessential she made the cynicism and the ill intentions of the voice that much stronger.
Only 10 % of people with eating disorders are male, which made Mike’s story all the more interesting. He is just a boy – a bit angry, a bit neglected, caught in the middle of his parents’ separation and divorce. He finds comfort in food and then he despises himself for it, so when a voice inside his head starts convincing him that he can be better, stronger, better, invincible – if only he would stop eating and start exercising even more – Mike is quick to obey.
The voice does not like competition and it works diligently to isolate Mike, to convince him that his parents and his friends hate him. It keeps filling Mike’s head with hate and aggression, until the only thing he really trusts becomes a distorted mirror in his bedroom. Anorexia is a serious illness that destroys the body methodically, and Metzger gave it a voice that is both relentless and mean. In less than 200 pages, she told a story that will creep you out and stay with you for a very long time.