The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller
Published July 11, 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBT
More Happy Than Not meets Glory O’Brien’s History of the Futurein this gritty, contemporary YA debut about a bullied gay teen boy with an eating disorder who believes he’s developed super powers via starvation.
Matt hasn’t eaten in days.
His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.
Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.
So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?
Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.
A darkly funny, moving story of body image, addiction, friendship, and love, Sam J. Miller’s debut novel will resonate with any reader who’s ever craved the power that comes with self-acceptance.
Actual rating: 2.5 stars
Thank you, HarperCollins and Edelweiss, for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t really know what to say. Is it the book? Is it me? Am I outgrowing ~semi-pretentious~ YA novels with teens who try to be edgy yet profound? Probably. I tried giving it a fair shot and finished the book, and it just left me… perplexed?
The book is sort of a parody to The Art of War, I think? Or at least, deriving some ideas from The Art of War to relate it to Matt’s own rule book, The Art of Starving. Matt’s life is pretty tough right now: his sister has left home, he’s struggling with an eating disorder (though he denies it), and he’s being bullied because he is gay.
There were some insightful chapters that made me feel for him as a main character, but then weird stuff happens… and happens… and happens. Some sort of fantasy element suddenly thrown into the mix? Starving himself makes his senses more developed and he becomes a sort of superhuman? What? And that thing towards the end just did not make sense, at least for me.
So yeah. Overall the book was not my cup of tea. It might be yours though, so I’ll still encourage you to go ahead and give it a shot. Maybe even let me know what you think after you’ve read it?