I love novels that are written in verse, I’ll admit. In fact, it’s part of what drew me into Kate Karyus Quinn’s Not Hungry. With that in mind, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. The fact of the matter is that Not Hungry deals with some very serious and, at times, disturbing issues that make the book an immensely difficult read. This is the kind of book that needs a lot of trigger warnings, and not just for its main theme of an eating disorder. Among the triggering content are eating disorders, body shaming, self-hate, abuse and violence (relating to romantic and non-romantic relationships), and drug abuse / addiction. The truth is, Not Hungry has a lot to unpack.
Something I’ve always loved are the hi-lo books, designed specifically to be easier to read but contain content that is tailored to a teenage audience. The reason for these books is to reach young adults who struggle with reading and provide them with books that afford them to feel successful within this area. As an educator, I find these books truly amazing. However, I do admittedly feel as though the content of this particular book is a bit much for that particular subsection of readers.
I think it likely depends highly on the kids who are going to be reading the book, but I can say that it is possible this novel deals with too many issues all at once instead of focusing on the most important ones. In that sense, it seems as though the book is practically filled with Murphy’s law. Will the main character ever get a break?
The main protagonist of the verse-written story is a young girl, June, who is overweight and has an eating disorder. Of course, no one notices her eating disorder largely because she is overweight. The story follows her life as she meets the new boy next door, deals with her sister’s abusive boyfriend, and her insensitive family. And honestly, this is a rough read.
The subject matter is, at times, incredibly painful to journey through. Certainly, this book can be incredibly triggering at times. I recall feeling quite uncomfortable on a number of occasions while reading it. You are thrown very deep into June’s head for the entirety of the novel, experiencing her thoughts, feelings, and depression in such a visceral way that you can’t help leaving the book feeling impacted by it.
To put it bluntly, there really is none.
And that is not to say that there wouldn’t be or that the book implies June doesn’t experience it, but rather that we are given an open ending that resolves very little. You’re left with something hopeful but no insight as to whether or not something comes of that hope. And you get absolutely no view into what June’s recovery might look like. Honestly, this was a missed opportunity.
[spoiler] Instead of recovery, we get a few moments of June standing up for herself, making up with her sister, and then dancing the night away. While it’s not a terrible ending, it does leave a lot to be desired. [/spoiler]
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.