Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
Expected publication by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 28, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Eating Disorder, Realistic Fiction
The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.
Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.
Sad Perfect was full of emotion and struggle. “Pea” (as her dad calls her… we don’t get any other name) has something called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, a rare but real disorder that many people don’t know about. The book is written in second person, which makes everything happening to Pea extremely personal, and I got to see through her eyes and understand what it means to live with this monster inside of me.
Sad Perfect is full of ups and downs (and other downs) as Pea struggles to kill her monster and live a normal life. Her family isn’t perfect, which honestly brings another level of realism to the book (I mean, come on. Whose family is really perfect?). The story starts on a high, with Pea meeting her soon to be boyfriend Ben. I liked Ben, but of all the characters he seemed the most fictional… maybe just a little too perfect, but he is also a sweetie and some people are just like that.
I loved how honest Sad Perfect was. Stephanie Elliot didn’t shy away from anything that was tough to talk about. She put all her cards on the table in a way that made my eyes swim more than once. Even for someone (like me) who hasn’t had a serious experience with an eating disorder, I found the book so easy to understand and relate with. Elliot takes a disorder that most people don’t know exist (much less understand) and lays it out in a way that not only raises awareness, but makes you understand what an impact a seemingly nonexistent disorder can have on a person and a family.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary, or anyone looking for a quick meaningful read that will stay with them.
I am going to give Sad Perfect four out of five hearts.