I’ve read this book several times since first buying it a year or two ago in a small (but amazing) book store in Port Hope called Furby House Books. It’s an incredible book, and I love it so much, but this is the first time I’ve tried to put into words exactly why I love it so much. So here it goes:
Skinny tells the story of a medical student named Giselle as she recovers from anorexia and attempts to uncover the answers to the mysteries left behind by her late father. Narration alternates every few chapters between Giselle and her fourteen-year-old athletic sister named Holly. There were two things that I found really interesting about Kaslik’s writing style:
1. She begins each new section of Giselle’s narrations with a quote that sounds like it could be taken straight out of a medical text book. Each of these quotes relates to the subsequent paragraphs – to Giselle’s life – in some way. I thought this was an excellent way to introduce new ideas within chapters and it kept things fresh and interesting while reading.
2. The disembodied voice that represents Giselle’s “anorexic side”. Aside from knowing that anorexia was an eating disorder that caused the person in question an innate need to be thin, I didn’t know much about it prior to reading this book. It had never occurred to me that there could be two sides to an anorexic person’s personality: the “anorexic side” that expressed the person’s need to be thin and controlled their habits, and the more “rational side” that knew how unhealthy these habits are. Giselle’s menacing inner self was nothing short of terrifying at best – a result I’m sure Kaslik strived for and achieved nicely.
“…her skin barely covered the grotesque machinery of her squirming insides…her deep wet eyes blinked back at me, alive.” (Kaslik, 12-13)
Overall I found Kaslik’s writing style original and developed. It made for a very interesting read as a whole.
As the story progresses, we learn more and more about each girls’ life and history. We are welcomed into the deepest, most secret places of their minds and it allows us to better understand why each girl is the way she is. I found each backstory – though they were very different from each other – captivating. Each girl’s voice is so distinct that they come alive very easily within the first few chapters.
On the whole, Kaslik’s Skinny gave me a better understanding of eating disorders by inviting me to experience one through a first-person narrative. By the end of the novel, I found myself incredibly attached to both Giselle and her sister, almost crying at one point. I highly recommend this book, as it will stay with you long after you’re finished.