Monday 18 February 2019

The Year I Didn't Eat by Samuel Pollen @samuel_pollen @ZunTold @ConkerComms #TheYearIDidntEat

This heartfelt, captivating novel chronicles a year in the life of 14-year-old Max as he struggles with anorexia.
"Dear Ana,
Some days are normal. Some days, everything is OK, and I eat three square meals, pretty much, even if those squares are ridiculously small squares.
Some days, I can almost pretend there's nothing wrong."
Fourteen-year-old Max doesn't like to eat, and the only one he can confess his true feelings to is Ana---also known as his eating disorder, anorexia. In a journal that his therapist makes him keep, he tells Ana his unfiltered thoughts and fears while also keeping track of his food intake. But Ana's presence has leapt off the page and into his head, as she feeds upon all of his fears and amplifies them.
When Max's older brother Robin gives him a geocache box, it becomes a safe place where Max stores his journal, but someone finds it and starts writing to him, signing it with "E." Is it a joke? Could it be the new girl at school, Evie, who has taken an interest in Max? Although Max is unsure of the secret writer's identity, he takes comfort in the words that appear in his journal as they continually confide in one another about their problems.
As Max's eating disorder intensifies, his family unit fractures. His parents and brother are stressed and strained as they attempt to deal with the elephant in the room. When Robin leaves home, Max is left with two parents who are on the verge of splitting up. Max thought he could handle his anorexia, but as time goes on, he feels himself losing any semblance of control.
Will anorexia continue to rule Max's life, or will he be able to find a way to live around his eating disorder?
The Year I Didn't Eat is an unforgettable novel that is haunting, moving, and inspiring.

The Year I Didn't Eat by Samuel Pollen is published in hardback by ZunTold on 1 March 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

As a woman in her fifties, I'm not the target market for this book. However, as a reader, and a person who appreciates fine writing, it's an absolute to pleasure to read this novel.

Men's and boy's mental health has been discussed a lot this year, and ZunTold believe that it's important that we keep talking and keeping it high on the radar.
The Year I Didn't Eat will be part of their 'Fiction As Therapy' arm, focussing on books with a therapeutic value.

I think it's safe to say that most people, when thinking about anorexia, will associate it with teenage girls. We see images of young girls who are so poorly with this obnoxious disease on a regular basis. There are articles about places online where they can go to get 'advice' about not eating, and these articles always seem to mention females. However, as with all mental illnesses, anorexia is not gender specific and Samuel Pollen has written a frank and poignant novel about a fourteen-year-old boy called Max who is living with anorexia.

It is absolutely clear that he draws from his own experiences, the insight into Max's thoughts and behaviours are incredible and I have no doubt that this must have been painful to write at times. However, it is also hugely important, and although it deals with the darkest of subjects, there is such humour within these pages too.

I liked Max, I liked the way that he wrote to 'Ana'. I loved his family, especially his Brother, but not his Aunt and Uncle! This could have been stereotypical and cliched. Max could have been a shy, bullied boy, but he wasn't. Max was an ordinary kid, from an ordinary household who was gripped by an illness that was destroying him.

An outstanding debut that is informative but also entertaining. The truth within fiction, packed with characters who are recognisable and perfectly created.

Resources to support children young people and families who may be affected by Eating Disorders


Resources, information and support for people affected by eating disorders

Youthline: 0808 801 0711


Mental health support for young people ( please note that kooth is not available all over the UK but does have wide coverage).

NHS 111

Urgent medical advice

Call: 111

Samuel grew up in Cheshire and now lives in London. He’s a writer, runner, crocheter and serial dog-botherer who recently ran the London Marathon for the first time, completing it in under three and a half hours. He works as a copywriter and in his spare time photographs his fiancĂ©e’s cookery creations, and writes teen and YA novels.
The Year I Didn’t Eat came out of a post he wrote for Medium about managing Christmas with an eating disorder.
Twitter : @samuel_pollen

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