Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nothing by Robin Friedman

Title: Nothing
Author: Robin Friedman
Pages: 232
Publisher: Flux
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.

---Report Card---
Originality: 10/10
Ending: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 8/10
Theme: 9/10
Imagery: 7/10
Setting: 4/5
Voice: 5/5
Style: 4/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 8/10
Total Score: 83/100 (B+)

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Unknown October 24, 2009 at 10:09 PM  

This sounds interesting and I think tackles a really important issue. The fact that the story is told through prose and verse makes it sound even more touching. Great review!

Thao October 24, 2009 at 10:45 PM  

Half verse and half real novel? That's something interesting. I hardly get to read novels about guys so I think I may pick it up. Thanks for the review Reggie : )

Lenore Appelhans October 24, 2009 at 11:31 PM  

Most bloggers I read didn't like this too much, but glad you did!

best of luck with the read-a-thon if you still plan to do it!

Nina October 24, 2009 at 11:57 PM  

Great review. I don't know if i'm going to like the book as it is half verse and half real novel. :)

Anonymous,  October 25, 2009 at 1:19 AM  

I agree really nice review. I would like to read more 'real' type of stories. Even though this sounds a bit confusing on the narrative. I'm adding it to my list. Eating disorders is always a sad and tough topic. Especially, when it's rare and dealing with boys or men.

Anonymous,  October 25, 2009 at 1:35 AM  

Great review! I've seen this one around quite a few times in bookstores and the library. I'll keep can an eye out for it next time. :)

Anonymous,  October 25, 2009 at 3:17 AM  

I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds good. Just popping by to say 'good luck' on the read-a-thon!

So Many Books, So Little Time October 25, 2009 at 4:52 AM  

I've never read about a boy dealing with an eating disorder before so I'll definitely have to check this out in the future. Thanks for the review, Reggie!

Eva October 25, 2009 at 5:00 AM  

I'm not sure if you're participating in the read-a-thon, but if you are, keep up the reading! You've finished the first third!

Eva October 25, 2009 at 7:00 AM  

I'm popping by again to offer some more cheering! Still not sure if you're participating, but just in case: read! read! read! ;)

Stephanie October 26, 2009 at 2:45 AM  

This sounds interesting. You don't often read about boys with eating disorders. Thank you for the balanced review.

Hazra October 26, 2009 at 10:19 PM  

Books about boys with eating disorders are rare, and I think that it tackles a pretty important issue. Thanks for the review.

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