Review · YA

Nothing Tastes As Good- Claire Hennessy

Don’t call her a guardian angel. Annabel is dead – but she hasn’t completely gone away. Annabel immediately understands why her first assignment as a ghostly helper is to her old classmate: Julia is fat. And being fat makes you unhappy. Simple, right?

As Annabel shadows Julia’s life in the pressured final year of school, Julia gradually lets Annabel’s voice in, guiding her thoughts towards her body, food and control.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. Spending time in Julia’s head seems to be having its own effect on Annabel . . . And she knows that once the voices take hold, it’s hard to ignore them.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

A few weeks ago, I popped into the library to collect a bunch of books I had ordered. The kind librarian, who knows me by name, had just received a new stack of books (2016 published) and pointed Nothing Tastes As Good out to me, asking me if I’d like to read it. After reading the back, I said I would. I like reading books exploring the importance of mental health, and I haven’t read that many about eating disorders. So I took it home.

I read it in a day. I cried my eyes out. It’s one of those books.

I was hugely confused at the start, by the writing and what the intended message was. We follow Annabel, a girl stuck in a sort of afterlife, unable to move on until she completes an assignment and helps Julia. Annabel is a terrible narrator- scathing, angry, rude and borderline abusive. She views people who are overweight as disgusting, she is abundant in the use of the word “fat”, and she hates Julia purely for the fact that she is overweight. We learn throughout the book why this is, but like many others reading this book, I was shocked. It was blunt. Too blunt? What is the author trying to do?

As the book progressed, we fell into the thoughts of Julia, as well as her actions as Annabel began “helping” her, which was the exact opposite of what she was supposed to be doing. But the most important thing? Annabel thought she was helping. She was vicious because that is how she conditioned herself to become. Towards herself, her relationship with food and towards others. Once I started to grasp this, I slowly fell in love with the story.

I have read books before with a spirit-guide type protagonist who is required to help someone, but it was never done like this. I love the originality, how Annabel is in fact the poison until she herself begins to realise that. So we actually get two stories in one: self-help for two characters who need each other to realise that they are ill. And I cannot stress how much I loved this.

And Julia is breaking my stupid, worthless heart by being surprised at this. That someone has noticed. That someone knows she’s not okay.

Getting to see inside the head of an anorexic teenager was greatly eye-opening. I have never had issues with food, but someone close to me has. It broke my heart to delve into thoughts of body image issues, self-hatred and depression. And that’s precisely why books like this are so essential.

No jokes today. It’s a wonderful book, and one that can easily open discussion for teenagers suffering from eating disorders, or other mental illnesses.

It’s no way to live. It makes people keep secrets and it stops them from asking for help or even thinking that they need it.

Buy this amazing book here: Nothing Tastes as Good

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