Mirrors Never Lie By Isaacsen-Bright

Caught in the nightmare of anorexia nervosa, Bonnie could lose more than just weight. She could lose her life.

Mirrors Never Lie

I have not been able to uncover any information on this book’s author, the mononomenclature’d Isaacsen-Bright, so I have no idea if he or she is a professional in the field of social problems (other books published under this name include YA novels dealing with homelessness, Lupus, and giving up a normal life in order to become a professional figure skater) or just a meddler pushing an agenda (I am looking at you, Anonymous!)

Either way, this book ends up with a message that has to be the exact opposite of what the author intended: anorexia will make you popular at school, win you the boy of your dreams and even reunite your divorced parents!

UGGGGGGGHHHHHHH…

The Plot: Teenaged Bonnie Isherwood is short and fat, which we know because the author tells us that she is exactly 5-feet, 3-inches [Editor’s note: LOL] and weighs 109 pounds [Editor’s note: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL] Is this supposed to be an early indication of Bonnie’s body dysmorphia? No, because her mother is constantly nagging her about her weight and she is taunted by the senior cheerleaders during her try-out for being “pretty hippy” and looking “like a young buffalo”.

Bonnie is also cursed by having a glamorous older sister, Dana, who is a department store fashion model, and who seemingly sustains herself on coffee and vitamin pills.

Bonnie’s parents are divorced, and her mother is pretty bitter about having to work long hours as a legal secretary while her airline pilot father is out jetting around with stewardesses and forgetting to pay child support.

Despite the A-squad commenting that the prospective candidates are going to “break the floor”, Bonnie and her best friend Toni do make the cheerleading team, inspiring Bonnie to start a new diet, and bringing down a cacophony of contradictory messages:

“Bonnie, there are starving children in this world who…” Mrs. Isherwood began.

“I know, Mom, it’s wasteful. But I had a candy bar on the way home from school,” Bonnie lied. Anything to get her off my back, she thought.

“That’s no way to lose ten pounds,” Dana scolded.

In order to speed up the family- coach- and modeling agency-endorsed plan for Bonnie to lose the ten pounds she so desperately needs [Editor died of incredulousness], she joins the school’s cross-country team and immediately develops a crush on the hunky new guy, Jeff.

Bonnie eventually diets her way down to 81 pounds, only to find that a teenage girl can’t win at this game. Toni tries to warn her before the big basketball game:

“Everyone’s talking. You’ve gotten so skinny. You look, well, funny. All arms and legs. There’s a bunch of boys. Loudmouths. And they’re planning on razzing you tonight. You know. And, I… we don’t want you to get laughed at.”

Bonnie doesn’t heed the warning, and is publicly taunted with “Windmill!” “Scarecrow!” and “Bony!” as they perform their routines.

Humiliated, Bonnie plays hooky from school for the entire next week, and when she returns she’s called into the track coach’s office because he’s “heard about some disease”, and tells Bonnie she can’t return to the track team until she’s cleared to do so by her doctor.

Bonnie’s mother is pretty pissed off about the school “meddling in family business”, but takes Bonnie for a check-up, where the doctor immediately pronounces her anorexic, which her mother refers to as “that crazy thing.”

The doctor reassures her that at 81 pounds, “She’s not quite at a deadly weight yet” (!?!?!?) and places the responsibility for monitoring Bonnie’s diet on her mother, which seems like a really bad idea.

Sure enough, soon Bonnie is surreptitiously shoving chewed-up food into the leaf of the dining room table and sewing curtain weights into the hem of her skirt; at her next weigh-in she has appeared to have gained a half-pound and the doctor is all like “now you are totally healthy enough for the cross-country team!”

Mom is still terrible:

“Well, look at that. Another half-pound! Why, kiddo, at this rate, we’ll have a regular old fatty in the family in a month!”

As she crosses the finish line at the first big track meet of the semester, she romantically blacks out and collapses into Jeff’s arms. When she wakes up in the hospital, her wayward father has arrived with a gift of Jean Patou’s Joy (“That’s the most expensive perfume in the world!”)

She watched her parents as the stood, trying to be casual. She felt a small tingle of hope. What if they got back together?

Dad’s solution is to try to force feed Bonnie a banana from the Valentine’s basket Jeff sent her, so I am inclined to think that the answer is: “then you would have twice the idiocy parenting you though this psychiatric crisis, Bonnie.”

Finally, Lesley, one of Bonnie’s classmates shows up to visit and announces that Bonnie’s parents are jackasses and she’s a recovering anorexic herself and Bonnie should really see a psychologist, and gives her doctor’s card.

So, in the end a 14 year old girl has more sense than all of the adults and medical professionals in the story combined. The end.

Sign It Was Written In 1982 Department:

Her mother stood, listening, nodding. Then with a curt “Thank you,” she hung up. She flounced into the living room and stood, her hands on her trim hips. “Telegram. ‘Sorry. Called for emergency flight. No time to phone. See you soonest. Merry Xmas.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Title! Department:

She studied her face. Her cheeks were round, fat. Mirrors never lie; she could see fat. It was that two extra bites of bran cereal.

AKA Department: Reissued under the title When The Mirror Lies, with the lazy cover art we’ve come to expect from Willowisp Press.

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Checking In With The Imaginary Summer Book Club: Jaws By Peter Benchley

(Click here for information on the 2014 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of Women’s Literature. As all of the four five selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. Today, the July alternate/bonus selection, Peter Benchley’s Jaws.)

Jaws

When I announced Jaws as the bonus selection for this year’s edition of Imaginary Summer Book Club, I hadn’t read it in about 25 years, and I dimly recalled it as being “Peyton Place with a shark” (this being one of those books I read long before I was allowed to see the movie). The sum total of my memory of the book was:  “grass and gazpacho”, “AC/DC”, how unscrupulous restaurateurs make fake scallops, and an extremely awkward sex scene.

While Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie has completely overshadowed its source material, Benchley’s novel was a blockbuster in its own right, spending 44 weeks on the bestseller lists and eventually selling 20 million copies. The fact that it now qualifies as a Lost Classic is testimony to both young Spielberg’s skill as a filmmaker, as well as the frustrating un-likeability of Benchley’s characters (supposedly upon reading the book Spielberg announced that he was rooting for the shark).

While the book opens with the familiar attack on poor, hippy-dippy Chrissie Watkins during some ill-advised late-night skinny dipping, the novel’s focus quickly shifts to Police Chief Martin Brody and the various intricacies of small-time policin’ in the resort town of Amity Island. Continue reading

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Ransom By Lois Duncan

Five students kidnapped, four families torn apart.

Ransom

Lois Duncan is best known for her YA thrillers that involve a supernatural twist, such as telepathy or psychic intuition or witchcraft. However, her earliest YA works are straightforward suspense and mystery titles most notable for the depiction of the psychological group dynamics of high school students.

The Plot: It may have the simplest plot of Duncan’s suspense titles, but the tension as the story unfolds is absolutely relentless. Continue reading

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The Changeover By Margaret Mahy

He offers her life, death or the supernatural- but the choice she makes must be her own.

The Changeover

Regular readers know that I love the dissonance between a book’s cover art and the actual content. Clearly, Point (Scholastic) is trying to repackage New Zealander Mahy’s coming-of-age-story as a high school romance- however, the actual story is more A Wrinkle in Time than Twilight. Continue reading

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Checking In With The Imaginary Summer Book Club: No Bed of Her Own By Val Lewton

Click here for information on the 2014 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of Women’s Literature. As all of the four selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. This month, the July selection, Val Lewton’s No Bed of Her Own.)

No Bed of Her Own

Val Lewton is best known as the producer of a dozen low-budget horror and suspense films for RKO Pictures in the 1940s: titles such as Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man, and Curse of the Cat People promised more lurid tales than the stylish, eerie films Lewton actually delivered.

Lewton had started work in Hollywood as an assistant and story editor for independent producer David O. Selznick (he is responsible for the Atlanta depot scene in Gone With the Wind, as well as work on A Star is Born, A Tale of Two Cities and Rebecca); however, the work that first brought him notice in Hollywood was this scandalous pulp novel about a young woman’s slow slide into prostitution during the brutal New York City winter of 1931. Continue reading

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Think Wild! By Arnold Madison

Ted Alford had racked up a glorious A in Driver Education, but his father still wouldn’t allow him to solo in the family car. Enter the BLUE MONSTER….

Think Wild!

The Plot: 16 year old Long Island “townie” Ted Alford has two things on his mind Labor Day weekend: getting a car of his own and a getting a date with his glamorous classmate, Sheila Kern. So focused is he on these concerns that he walks right into a riot ignited by the drunken college students that have not yet cleared out from the summer. They organize with the gusto of graduates from a Communist training camp: Continue reading

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Checking In With The Imaginary Summer Book Club: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie By Muriel Spark

(Click here for information on the 2014 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of women’s Literature. As all of the four selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. First up, the June selection, Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel is brief enough that it first saw publication in The New Yorker; a stage version appeared five years later, and the play was further adapted into a film in 1969, earning Maggie Smith an Oscar for Best Actress in the title role. Continue reading

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