Many YA books tackle the topic of teens with eating disorders and body image issues. Some, like Skinny by Donna Cooner, include insistent internal voices that whisper damaging thoughts to their hosts. Others, like Nothing by Robin Friedman and Purge by Sarah Darer Littman, portray teen boys struggling with anorexia and bulimia. But none combine these elements in quite the same way as Lois Metzger’s A Trick of the Light.
Who is this oddly persuasive voice that’s telling Mike to ignore his best friend and hang out with a strange, too-thin girl instead? Why does the voice encourage Mike to set aside his interest in stop-motion animation and focus entirely on the size and shape of his body? And who could ignore a voice that promises a more exciting life than one spent picking up the pieces left by a depressed mother and an absent father?
Speaking in a simple, hypnotic style, this unnamed voice distorts logic and warps perceptions, offering Mike the illusion of strength and discipline while pulling him further and further into the depths of anorexia. Will Mike eventually succumb to the voice’s unattainable goals? Or will he somehow find a way to silence the very speaker who’s been telling—and controlling—the story all along?
The unusual point of view is reminiscent of the otherworldly and disembodied narrators of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Every Day by David Levithan. However, unlike those more reliable narrators, the voice in A Trick of the Light is manipulative and deceitful, drawing readers into Mike’s head and forcing them to decide for themselves what’s true and what’s twisted. Don’t be misled by the book’s small size: This slim volume packs a big emotional punch.