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Dancing With Ana
Dancing With Ana
Author: Nicole Barker
Beth is a lucky girl... She comes from a loving family. She has three best friends. She loves to surf and lives five minutes from the beach. She also recently discovered that the boy she's grown up with has the most amazing green eyes... Beth has every reason to smile. Every reason to be happy. Every reason to feel blessed. — Then why is s...  more »
ISBN: 225502
Publication Date: 8/1/2009
Pages: 170
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 7 ratings
Publisher: The Golden Road Press
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
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reviewed Dancing With Ana on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Beth and her three friends Jenny, Rachel, and Melanie decide to go on a diet together. They are your typical high school girls, interested in boys, looking pretty, and each with their own troubles as everyone has. The girls go in on a diet pact in order to give support to one another, and each one has a goal weight that she wants to achieve. Beth, the novel's main character, first begins the diet with exercise and a minimal healthy diet. But soon into the diet, it becomes an obsession for her. The diet is then about more than just losing weight and being healthy, and Beth doesn't know why she is doing it, only that she has to. Every morning when she discovers more weight lost, she feels triumphant. After the chaos of her family breaking apart, this is finally some measure of control restored to her.

Beth doesn't stop when she reaches her target weight. Her mother has noticed something wrong, and her boyfriend/friend Jeremy sees the change in her as her clothing begins to hang off of her and her bones protrude. Despite his attempts to get her to open up about her diet, she won't. Her three friends finally find happiness and drop out of the diet, but Beth can't seem to stop. Instead of eating healthy and within proportion, she is starving herself to the point of passing out. Beth has no energy left, her skin is pale, and she is no longer happy. Beth is undoubtedly anorexic.

Anger and sadness trigger something in her that sets her off on a food binge. Naturally, her binge upsets her to the point where she engages in bulimia. As the book description says, Beth has every reason to be happy with her life, yet she is not. But we all know how teenagers are: every second is a second closer to the world ending for them. Some always fell prey to social pressures and expectations because they are so weighted and obvious.

This book was personal for me because I have struggled with an eating disorder for over half my life. I have been anorexic since I was a teenager, and I did it for no other reasons but pure vanity and a need to control something in my life. And I continue to do so. No, I am not proud of myself, I am only disclosing this to say that I understand what Beth and her friends go through. I certainly know what it is like to be a teenage girl succumbing to all of the pressures of that age. There is tremendous stress on teenage girls to look perfect, and perfect is hard to achieve. After a while, it takes you over. I applaud author Nicole Barker for taking on such a serious and sensitive topic. It's not something a lot of people talk about. That Barker shows us the progression of eating disorder, how it can quickly get out of control, helps people understand that sometimes it's not always rational. Sometimes you cannot apply logic and expect that to fix the problem. Through Beth, we see the humanity behind eating disorders, and as such they are more than, "oh no, that's bad, you should stop."

A lot of people see eating disorder as a cause-effect issue. And while there is a cause, sometimes it is so complex that it cannot be easily pinpointed and reasoned out. Therefore, it is hard to cure. Barker portrayed that accurately in giving Beth's problem so much complication and depth. I don't know if Barker herself has ever had a problem with anorexia, but she got a lot of the body issues and emotions involved correct. You do get weak, you do end up losing the energy that you once had, and you do end up getting depressed from lack of nutrition and body unhappiness. Of course, there are other things not experienced by Beth in the book that are true to anorexia. For example, you become very intolerant to the heat and to the cold, you get shaky, you start to breathe heavily when doing the smallest thing.

I very much enjoyed this quick read. The book is 170 pages, which means you can read it in one day if you have nothing else to do. Beth's character is compelling and honest, and it really does reflect the difficulties of being a teenager girl. Barker captured the voice of youth nicely and convincingly.
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reviewed Dancing With Ana on + 32 more book reviews
Genre: Young Adult

Beths life is perfect. She has what every high school girl wants: great friends, a great body, and a cute boy who likes herexcept that its only on the surface. Underneath everything her life is a mess. Her parents are divorced and the loss of her father is eating at her slowly. She begins to not enjoy the things that she used to and becomes fixated on losing weight. Everyone around her is worried about her. Will she be able to regain control of her life or will it continue to spin out of control?

Beths story is one that is poignant for many young girls in todays society. Divorce and weight issues are common scenarios. While this story could have easily fallen into clichéd territory, Nicole Barker does a phenomenal job at creating stories and characters that you care about. By the second chapter I was absorbed in Beths story and couldnt wait to read what would happen next. Her characters are very real. They not only have real problems, but they react in real ways. Being a few years out of high-school myself, I could still relate to the problems Beth and her friends were facing. The way this story is written I think that anyone of any age can relate and enjoy it.

This book would be a perfect book for any teen girl to read; its hard being a teen today. Issues of self image, self-mutilation, peer pressure, divorce, and relationships are all approached in this story in a way that is sensitive but without feeling patronizing and preachy. It really illustrates how quickly something can spiral out of control and how hard it can be to climb back out of that hole. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though.

I received this book from the author for review. This was a quick and awesome read. I would highly recommend this read. Dont brush it off because it is a young adult novel.

4.5 out of 5 stars!
reviewed Dancing With Ana on + 13 more book reviews
I received this book from the author for review. It is only 170 pages, so it is a very quick read. I was very intrigued by the premise of the story and, overall, I did enjoy the book. With that I said, I also felt that the characters and the story could have been fleshed out more and the book could have been much longer. I felt that I only got a cursory glance into these girls lives and I wanted to know more!! The story was just too quick for me!

The author changed viewpoints quite a bit also, so I got confused at times as to who was narrating (sometimes from sentence to sentence!), so I had to go back and re-read some parts to try and put everything together.

All that aside, this book does grab you right away and is a very engaging story. I would definitely classify it as Young Adult (YA). It really makes you think about anorexia/bulimia and the pressures teens face to be "beautiful". This is definitely worth a read!