Review: What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

What I Lost is so well done. It’s the story of Elizabeth and her anorexia, which has landed her in rehab. Alexandra Ballard does a great job of explaining anorexia as an illness. I had a friend who struggled with anorexia in high school, and so many of the behaviors included in this book brought that experience back for me.

When Elizabeth enters treatment, she is determined to get out as quickly as she can, so she can get right back to her old eating habits. But over time she has experiences and meets friends that help her realize that she is not healthy. There is a small romantic plot in this book, and I was really happy that it’s not fully developed. This is really a book about Elizabeth and her disease, and that cannot be solved with a love interest.

There is a lot of blame on her mother in this book, and I wasn’t entirely thrilled about that, but it worked well for the plot development. And of course anorexia can be hereditary, so I guess it illustrated that point.

I really enjoyed being inside Elizabeth’s head: experiencing her thoughts and understanding her actions. I grew attached to some of the other girls in treatment, just like Elizabeth did. I feared for them, and I routed for them. And I was really happy that this book didn’t wrap up nicely at the end. Ballard made it clear that Elizabeth would keep struggling to control her illness and her eating habits. And I kind of hope there’s a sequel.

Rating: 4 Stars

What I Lost
Alexandra Ballard
Young Adult Fiction
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
June 6, 2017

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

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