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