Giselle Vasco is a 22-year-old student who is in her first year of medical school. Giselle's the smart one and fairly pretty...maybe. She is a compulsive studier that faces a losing battle with anorexia and blames it on her dead father, who she claims never loved her as much as her younger sister, Holly. Within Giselle’s narrative, she carries on a dialogue with the pessimistic side of herself, her inner demon – which, most likely, is her disease. Giselle comes face to face with her own mortality and is destroying herself while those around her are powerless to stop it and can only watch her slide into oblivion.
Holly is nothing like Giselle. She is the better compensated, 14-year-old junior track star of the family; “the golden child”. She is a tom-boy: gorgeous, competitive and fun, with a strong head on her shoulders who relishes in her strength and appetite. Although she may seem like she has it together, she doesn’t. Being half-deaf and schizophrenic, Holly struggles to get through school as well as understand and avert her sister’s illness. We hear through Holly’s voice how Giselle’s disease affects her and her family.
While the current setting of the book is in Canada, the secrets of Giselle’s mother’s and father’s past were formed in Hungary. We get the feeling that we’re in a suburb in modern times. The novel takes place at the Vasco house, the local hospital, St. Sebastian junior high, and very often, inside Giselle and Holly’s head. The whole mood and atmosphere of the novel is very uptight and suffocating. At times, the reader may feel hopeful for Giselle but at other times also annoyed.
The conflict in this book is individual vs. self. Giselle is always battling herself. Her main issues are her struggles with her weight and anorexia as the pessimistic side of her taunts her repeatedly to be thin while pushing her to the brink of insanity. It’s that demonic voice, against her own voice and thoughts,...
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