Dancing with Ana
by Nicole Barker
Read: Aug. 3, 2009
Challenge: 2009 100+ Reading Challenge; A Well-Rounded Challenge; Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 39
First Line: “Christine McCady’s hair is especially shiny today,” Jenny told the three girls sitting with her at the lunch table.
Four sixteen-year-old friends, Beth, Jenny, Rachel and Melanie are struggling to find out who they are as young women. And they’re also struggling with the fact that there’s always going to be someone skinnier, someone prettier, someone with better hair, the list can go on and on. But for Beth, life is going especially tough for her and she hasn’t even really realized it yet. Her father has left their family for a younger woman, she’s falling in love with her best friend, and she is determined to get down to her “target” weight of 110 pounds. She’s so determined that she has enlisted the help of her closest friends to diet together. But their diets are dangerous – they’re hardly eating. The horrible headaches and dizziness finally makes Beth’s friends realize that they have no business dieting like they’re doing. But Beth is determined. However, when she hits 110 pounds, she realizes that she’s not as happy as she had expected to be. In fact, she’s actually even more depressed. But as she keeps going, her friends and new boyfriend are finally able to step in and help her realize that she doesn’t need to do all this dieting in order to be pretty and happy.
I’m going to include a small selection from page 164 that really highlights what has been going on with Beth. The first girl talking in this blurb is Christine, McCady, the most popular girl in school.
She paused at the door. “By the way, love what you’ve done with yourself. Ten more pounds and you’ll be super hot!”
And she was gone.
Beth looked at herself in the mirror, and for the first time, saw the dark smudges under her eyes. Her hair hung loose, laying flat against her head. Her skin was very pale. Hesitantly, she lifted her oversized t-shirt, exposing her stomach. All of her ribs showed, and her stomach was sunken in. For the first time, she saw how frail her arms looked.
She also finally saw how she’d chosen to deal with her father’s abandonment … by destroying herself.
I was contacted directly by the author, Nicole Barker, to read and review this book. I received it in the mail yesterday and sat down with it last night and read it in one sitting. It was that good. I could really relate with Beth’s character; I was a milder version of her my junior year in high school. Barker’s descriptions of the new love that all four of the girls finally began to experience reminded me of those first few months of young love with my husband when we were in high school. I find it kind of ironic that at the age of 24 I find myself enjoying YA reads, whereas when I was 15 or 16 and should have read a book like this I wanted no part of them. I honestly believe that women of all ages could really relate to the girls in this story, I highly recommend this book to everyone.