The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron
Publisher: Puffin Books | 1995 (first published 1979) | 231 pages
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Fat and Skinny had a race
All around the pillow case
Fat fell down and broke her face
Skinny said, ‘Ha-ha, I won the race.’
The Best Little Girl in the World sounds like a really simple title, doesn’t it? Well, this story is much more than simple actually. My sister recommended this book for me to read. I wondered why she never recommended it earlier!
The ‘little girl’, Francesca Louise Dietrich, a normal teenager who loves ballet and goes for ballet lessons. At the beginning of the story, Francesca has already begun to hate her ‘fat body’. Then, I think her ballet teacher made matters worse by telling her to be slim and firm herself up. But I guess her teacher meant for her to diet in a healthy way.
Anyway, Francesca created a new name for herself: Kessa. In her mind, Kessa is thin and perfect whereas Francesca is fat and ugly. So that’s how her obsession of becoming thin started. She drifted away from her family and friends and also from food altogether.
I was quite annoyed with her mother, Grace and also her father, Harold. Kessa must have become terribly thin already and always made up excuses not to eat her food but her parents did not entirely force her to eat. They let her do anything she wants initially. When she complained about the food, they merely scolded her but didn’t make her eat.
After some time, her father could not take it anymore and stood over her and made her eat up her food. However, they did not know that she would throw up all the food she ate in the toilet. And yet they wonder why she’s still so thin. Finally, Kessa’s pediatrician advised her parents to let Kessa see a psychiatrist, a Dr Smith.
Things did not really go well with Dr Smith and Kessa stopped seeing him. Then, her parents took her to another psychiatrist, Sandy Sherman. Well, at least Sherman sounds better than Smith, Kessa’s father thought. Yeah, he’s better too because he made Kessa trust him and confide in him.
Kessa’s condition did not improve, as she still won’t eat and finally landed in the hospital. I like her roommate, Lila, who’s very straightforward and full of common sense. She tells Kessa it’s silly to NOT want to eat when they have food right in front of them. Then what about poor people who don’t have food? Poor people don’t simply starve themselves to become thinner. It’s logical, isn’t it?
I think this is the first book about anorexia nervosa that I’ve read. So far, I’ve only watched a movie, Hunger Point, which is also about an anorexic girl. The Best Little Girl in the World has been an insightful book but at some parts where Kessa was examining herself and when she was counting the number of ribs she has, I felt sort of uncomfortable for her. If one could count the number of ribs one has, then that person ought to feel extremely hungry! I know I will.
This book has its good and bad sides. The good part is that it’ll give us an idea of how an anorexic thinks. The bad part is it may help people become anorexics, which is just bad, bad, bad. Therefore, I recommend that you only READ it for information but NOT to copy what Kessa did. It sounds logical, isn’t it?
In short, when you are hungry, EAT! Your body will thank you for it.