Sarah Darer Littman
What does it mean to be perfect? For Janie, perfection is her older sister, the sister that her father is always comparing her to. But now Janie’s life has spiraled out of control and she is now in an inpatient treatment facility. It has taken a traumatic event at her sister’s wedding for her parents to discover that she has had bulimia for two years, and although Janie recognizes that she has an eating disorder, she isn’t yet willing to discuss with her therapist or with the other patients in her group. She is, however, willing to explore her problems in the journal she is asked to keep and in it the reader discovers just how insecure she is. When asked to come up with ten words that describe how she sees herself, Janie’s answer is:
Janie’s unsure if her family and friends will ever forgive her for screwing up so badly, even though they don’t know the whole story – they don’t know why she ruined her sister’s wedding. Until she’s willing to face her demons, she has no chance of being allowed to go home.
I have to confess that Purge and I didn’t start off well. Based on several reviews, I had purchased it for my middle school library (teen problem books are very popular with my students). The book did give me some issues with language and mature situations until I realized that, at least in my opinion, Purge would be better suited for grades 9 - 12. Once I accepted that, I was able to really appreciate what Littman was doing. Although I’ve never suffered from bulimia and so don’t have first-hand experience with it, I think she did an excellent job depicting how difficult it is to recover from an eating disorder (Littman did suffer from bulimia as a teenager). I really liked Janie and sympathized with her problems. I’m glad I read Purge and I look forward to reading more books by Littman.