Published by Balzer + Bray on 6/18/2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
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Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.
Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.
Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers—young men—A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson’sWintergirls and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.
A Trick of the Light by Lois Letzger is an ARC that showed up on my doorstep one day, so I decided to give it a try. I had no reference for what it was about, because the synopsis wasn’t even referenced on the back of the ARC, but it has received such high praise (based on the Goodreads rating, because I try not to read reviews before I write my own), I figured why not? There’s a semi-naked boy on the cover, head to head with his shadow. I honestly thought this conveyed a different meaning and story entirely and boy how wrong was I.
Initially, I didn’t like A Trick of the Light. The writing felt choppy to me and I wasn’t quite understanding what was happening, so by page 50, I was getting fed up and nearly set it down. The reason I pressed on? It’s a short book, and I decided that it wouldn’t take a lot of my time to see it through to the end.
I’m so glad I saw this book through to the end. At page 60, I was telling my fiance how weird this book was. By page 80, I was hooked, because I completely got it. So, if this is a book that you’re thinking of reading, don’t give up on it. The story is a must-read.
Mike is 15-years-old and struggling at home. His parents have drifted apart and he feels like he has no one. He gets good grades, but they don’t notice him anymore, and even at school, he’s not one of the more popular kids. He struggles with identity issues, always wanting to know if people see him as fat, and suspicious when they answer too quickly, or too slowly. He’s also sick in the mind, because he listens to a voice in his head that tells him what to do, who to be friends with, and what to eat. This voice has a name: anorexia.
A Trick of the Light is a fascinating novel for a multitude of reasons: it’s in the 1st-person but it’s not narrated by Mike, it’s narrated by the sickness itself, and as the reader, we get to watch the sickness take control of him. This is such a unique look at how the anorexic mind works, and it explains the writing style. Sickness is not fluid, therefore the narration of the book cannot be fluid. It’s also interesting that the protagonist in this story is a boy and not a girl. Girls are often victimized with anorexia, because statistics show we develop it more often than boys. So to read the story of a boy with anorexia is refreshing and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Ray Harryhausen, the father of stopmotion films, is referenced a lot. I am positive there was a purpose behind this and it frustrates me that I don’t know what that is. Like, it’s just there at the tip of my brain, but I can’t grasp the concept.
Mike is fascinated with a two-headed cyclops that he draws a few times. I really connected the two-headed cyclops with his own self, and the voice in his head telling him to do bad things, like run through his hunger, or not eat.
I did think Mike’s road to recovery was not detailed enough and it felt to clean for me. I wanted it a bit messier, because by all accounts that I’ve heard, it’s never easy and it felt liked Metzger was trying to wrap the book up instead of getting nitty-gritty, but I am appreciative of the glimpse into the recovery process at all.
A Trick of the Light is a fabulous and profound book. Not only should everyone read this, but this should be on every high school reading list as well.
I received this ARC in exchange of an honest review. I was not compensated for my opinion other than with this book.