hy do some girls eat anything they want and some girls eat nothing they want? And why, especially during a girl's teenage years, does it feel like a 24-hour-a-day crisis to be the prettiest, the thinnest and (impossibly, of course) the most perfect? With all the traumas that are associated with coming of age in today's complex, multi-media society, it seems nonsensical that society's most primal foundation food would become the focal point of so many young girls who are trying to figure out how they fit into the world. But statistics on eating disorders clearly show that food is a major component of adolescent angst, especially among girls.

Eve Eliot should know. As a psychotherapist and facilitator for treating eating disorders, she speaks with empathy about food addictions, having suffered from (and conquered!) anorexia nervosa, compulsive eating and obesity herself. Eliot also understands that parents have a treacherous line to walk in educating their teens about the role of food in their lives. But Insatiable is not a medical text or a lecture, sure to turn off teens. It is cleverly and comfortably written through the eyes of four true-to-life high school girls, Samantha, Hannah, Jessica and Phoebe, who desperately seek control by choosing food, or the depravity of it, as a way of coping.

Insatiable is a novel that tackles the "food and its power" issue in a unique way that is certain to appeal to girls 12Ð18, all the while promoting ways the characters (and possibly the readers) can find courage to seek help, types of therapies that are available and other alternatives to bad choices. The book is effective because of its conversational style and completely believable characters who deal with food-related issues: dating, feeling alone, athletics and social standing within the peer group. As one of the characters, Hannah, laments: "I just feel so lonely about it." "Absolutely," agreed the guidance counselor. "It feels so lonely to be different. Sometimes differentness feels like a blessing, but sometimes it feels like a curse, too." No preachiness here. Insatiable is an issue-oriented novel (usually the kiss of death for teen books), but it works because it draws the reader into the girls' lives in ways that make them seem like real people with real concerns . . . like friends.

Naomi Branch lives on a ranch in Tennessee where she reviews books and writes about women's issues.

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