Author: Robin Friedman
Publication Date: August 1, 2008
This short novel examines the life of a boy with bulimia. Parker Rabinowitz, 17, is good-looking, smart, and rich; he's bound to get into Princeton. He is expected to maintain perfect grades, participate in multiple extracurricular activities and service projects, and, in other words, be the perfect son. His sister, Danielle, is jealous of the attention he gets, but she is the first to notice that something is terribly wrong. Parker is binging uncontrollably, and then forcing himself to vomit. What starts out as an occasional stress release becomes an obsession controlling his life. His downward spiral climaxes when he convulses in his bathroom. He is rushed to the hospital, and after his "recovery" begins therapy.
Everyone thinks Parker Rabinowitz has everything; looks, talent, athleticism, and intelligence. He's on the path to HYP (Harvard Yale Princeton)...In other words, he's the perfect guy with the perfect college application. Everyone loves him, adores him, or admires him. But none of them, even his parents, notice his changed attitude, his warped mood swings, and his lack of confidence. Everybody except his sister. She notices his behavior and eventually finds out he's been making himself vomit. He's become completely bulimic and hurts the people around him in the process of his downward spiral. "Sometimes trees can look healthy on the outside, but actually be dying on the inside. These trees fall unexpectedly during a storm." These words have never rung so true.
Trapped in a world of stress and responsibility, Parker finds reassurance through bulimic actions like vomiting. Guys with bulimia is a topic that is uncommon and different from other stories. Friedman connects bulimia with high-school stress; the stress most teenagers are familiar to at school. The pressure and expectations are portrayed authentically through Parker's POV and seeing through his eyes is a whirlwind of emotions and problems, and his inability to accept himself echoes throughout every decision he makes.
Nothing is a half verse novel, half real novel. Danielle's narrative is mostly in broken poetry while Parker's is the novel part of the story. Her narration is filled with clarity and bluntness that could only be a second child's perspective.
Sometimes, throughout the novel, Parker with his stress and problems fall flat and get confusing. Parker and Danielle are the only characters that I really got to know and their friends are two-dimensional and unoriginal. Parker's relationship with Julianne is weird and unconventional...seemingly too predictable and useless. B+ =)
The Bottom Line: Nothing is a novel that I think, everyone should read. But although it's unique and interesting, the delivery of the novel was not as good as it could have been.
My reaction/enjoyment: 8/10
Total Score: 83/100 (B+)