thinandbeautiful.com By Liane Shaw

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    Seventeen-year-old Maddy has always felt a hole in her life, but she has finally found a way to fill it with her quest to mold her body into her ideal, thinnest shape. When she comes across the world of -pro-ana- websites, where young people encourage each other in their mission to lose ever more weight, she realizes she is no longer alone. Finally, she has found a place where she is understood. Maddy quickly becomes addicted to the support and camaraderie she finds on thinandbeautiful.com. Now in a rehab facility where they are trying to -fix- a problem she doesn't think she has, Maddy's diary entries trace how she arrived at this point. Angry that she is barred from accessing her online friends, only the tragic consequences that come to one of her comrades in arms is enough to shock her into admitting that she does need help. www.thinandbeautiful.com

    Liane Shaw has worked in education for twenty-five years, with much of that time spent as a teacher of students who face academic, behavioral, physical or emotional challenges. Her own battle with anorexia inspired her to write this story. thinandbeautiful.com

    Concept/Ideas: 3/5
    Storyline/Plot: 4/5
    Characters: 4/5
    Writing Style: 4/5
    Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

    I loved ThinandBeautiful.com. It was an interesing and educational read. I loved the storyline, and I found it very sad, but at the same time, a great read about body image, and the pressures girl's feel nowadays to conform to a certain body type.

    I found Maddie somewhat annoying, but the dialogue was still good, so I didn't really mind that factor. I loved her best friend Annie, and thought that she was such a sweetheart, who just didn't know how to take action towards her best friend's anorexia problem.

    It was a fast read, only about 200 something pages, but I found it went by quickly because of the engrossing story, and heartbreaking voice of seventeen-year old Maddie.

    I also enjoyed how it switched between two parts constantly. One part was her battle leading up to the anorexia, and the other was the diary/journal entries of her life while in a clinic recovering.

    I loved this book, and I reccommend it to anyone, suffering from body issues or not, because not only does it teach you to value your body, and shows you how much the media negatively influences girls (AND boys) nowadays, but it also teaches you and makes you aware of the ongoing struggle and anorexia/bulimia problem that many girls have to deal with and suffer from. Young Adult, Memoir As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, I was very eager to dig into Thinandbeautiful.com. This young adult book was written by Liane Shaw, a teacher who once struggled with anorexia. The story follows Maddie, an anorexic teenage girl who finds herself sucked into the pro-ana (pro-anorexia) website thinandbeautiful.com. Thinking no one understands how she feels about her weight and her body, Maddie pushes her friends and family away, finding her only comfort in the virtual arms of her online friends.

    The story finds Maddie in a sort of rehab facility for eating disorders where she is told to keep a journal chronicling her descent into anorexia. The action shifts back and forth between the journal entries describing how Maddie fell into anorexic thinking (it all began when a doctor during a routine examination warns her to be careful about gaining unwanted pounds) to the present day, her time in the rehab facility and her feelings that no one understands her need to be thinner. It's only when Maddie gets tragic news about one of her online friends that she begins to come to terms with the idea that she might have a problem.

    Thinandbeautiful.com starts slowly. The journal format is difficult to get into, partially because it didn't really feel like the words of a 17-year-old girl. It read like the words of an adult trying to write as if she were a 17-year-old girl. In fact, it is reminiscent of the after school specials you might have watched in the late eighties.

    Describing the descent into anorexia is difficult; the early parts of the book are slow and convoluted and don't really help to explain why someone would decide that their weight it isn't good enough, no matter how thin they may be. In fact, as much as the early pages of this book talk about Maddie's desire to be thin and healthy, there is little mention of what her actual weight currently is or what she thinks it should be. Her goal is simply to be thinner, but there is little behind that desire. Her desire to be thin is fueled only by a vague notion that thinner is better, not any idea about how her life will be different when she reaches her undefined magic goal weight.

    I’m not saying there has to be a rational reason behind an irrational way of thinking, but I do think eating disorders are usually fueled by more than just a desire to be thin. It’s a perception that something else is lacking or that the thinness will help the sufferer achieve something, such as control. That’s why I found Maddie’s struggle difficult to identify with and understand.

    About halfway through the book, once the journal entries reach their apex and Maddie really starts to confront her feelings about her family and her online friends, the story starts to resonate. You may not understand why Maddie has an eating disorder, but you do understand she’s hurting and that she’s struggling to find a way to conquer her illness. It is in the last third of the book that you feel the author's connection to the material; the words finally start to ring true and the book becomes genuine, just when it matters most.

    However, Thinandbeautiful.com is a case of too little, too late. Those final glimpses aren't enough to recommend the book. Someone struggling with the same thoughts as Maddie may find Thinandbeautiful.com comforting, but those trying to understand why someone would starve themselves will find this novel lacking.

    Review by Jennifer Lee Johnson Young Adult, Memoir I loved this book, and it was really well written for me. I was so engrossed that I managed to read it in two sittings in one day.

    Basically, the title says it all: thinandbeautiful.com. 17-year-old Maddie Nesserfield just wants to be that - thin and beautiful. So much so that she pushes everything that's dear to her to become that. What I love about this story is that it gives readers Maddie's point of view instead of being told in third person. It gave me quite useful insight of what was going through Maddie's mind and I honestly felt the urge that she feels too (though I didn't try any of those, aha)

    But what was annoying was that I was siding against Maddie - I felt that whatever she did was totally wrong but in her mind it was right. But of course it was wrong, but the way she expressed it was like it was politically correct in her own world. I felt myself being irritated and wanted to yell in the book for her to lose her best friend, yelling at her parents and whoever tried to help her.

    And the GWS (Girls Without Shadows) just added to my annoyance in this story. I mean, I honestly didn't think that this was to be encouraged. And what's more -- probably it is happening right now somewhere in the world. That's a scary thought when I put this book down.

    I loved the ending, too. I loved how Maddie got a jolt, a sudden wake up call from her lala-land when lookingforlight died from anorexia and bulimia. Young Adult, Memoir Another book about eating disorders that is just okay. I've never read a book (well...yet,) about this topic that I love. Mainly because the representations are so stupid.

    The denial was so unrealistic. It annoyed me (I nearly swore!) so much how naive and stupid she was. She goes down as one of the most annoying main characters ever. How the hell could she deny it for that long? Fair enough at first, but NOT when she was institutionalised...and PURGING. I mean, yeah, maybe with her idiocy, she could imagine restricting as plain dieting. But purging isn't just dieting. A fricking 5 year old child knows that.

    She'd also (like me...) come across a list of symptoms at some point, given she was obsessed with the internet, and relate to most of the points. It seems as if the author just looked at a list of symptoms herself and decided to focus on the 'denial.' I've never met anyone that didn't know they had an eating disorder, or at least thought of their eating/dieting as normal.

    So, yeah, I totally despised Madison. I sided with her parents and everyone else throughout the entire book, even with my own anorexia. The other characters weren't developed at all, and I just couldn't relate to them.

    Also, she was hospitalised for her eating disorder, yet she wasn't forced to attend meals?? What's the point of her being there? No wonder she refused to believe she had an eating disorder. I've been to a hospital where I didn't have a roommate and going to groups/sessions was optional, so I'm not going to slam that, but the MEALS. You have to go to them. In fact, you have to have someone to watch you eat (the reason you're there...), and you're not allowed to leave the hall for around 30 minutes, so people can't just run out and purge straight afterwards. In Madison's hospital, what is stopping that?

    Everyone there had eating disorders, but they seemed to have no problem with eating. Marina and Wolf instantly stuffed their faces in front of Madison, not seeming to be self-aware or bothered. They'd only been in the hospital around a month, right? I want to go to this magical hospital, where I can be completely cured in a month (like Wolf and Marina), with no forced meal times, no one breathing down your neck, making sure you consumed at least 3,000 calories a day, no one trapping you in the hall, so you couldn't run out and get rid of the most calories you'd eaten in a year. What was to stop Madison just pouring the protein shake that she was apparently forced to eat into her drawer, or on the floor, then pretend to have eaten it? Honestly it was like some hotel, not a hospital. I want to go there.

    Just like every other book I've read, the 'recovery' is around two pages at the end, and is always the most cliche way to recover with someone dying and them suddenly having a random epiphany.

    I have to say again that I suffer from anorexia myself, which is why I think I feel so strongly about the representations in these books. If you want realism, then I wouldn't recommend this. Young Adult, Memoir Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka Readingjunky for TeensReadToo.com

    Maddie considers herself pretty normal. At the age of eleven, she began thinking, and yes, worrying, about her appearance. But aren't most girls concerned about things like hair, make-up, and weight? It may have been that visit to the doctor for a physical that got the problem started.

    It was a routine sports physical. After the exam and Maddie was back in her clothes, the doctor came into the room to chat. Part of the conversation was a warning from him that girls her age need to start watching what they eat so they don't put on unwanted pounds.

    Those words stayed with Maddie, and as her desire to create the perfect figure began to occupy more of her thoughts, those words may have urged her to go way beyond what was healthy and wise.

    Most of THINANDBEAUTIFUL.COM involves Maddie writing about herself and confronting the fact that she is suffering from an eating disorder. She has many people who offer her support, but recognizing whose support she should seek is difficult.

    Her family and school friends are ready to do whatever is necessary, but she is drawn to an online chat group known as Girls Without Shadows. Their belief is that they have the right to do what they want to their bodies in their desire to be thin and beautiful. The idea of eating disorders does not exist for them.

    Author Liane Shaw presents the all too common problems of anorexia and bulimia in stark detail as she helps Maddie tell her story. The excuses and denial typical of those with eating disorders is made plain for all to see. Anyone suffering with one or both of these disorders, or anyone who knows someone who is, will benefit from reading Maddie's story. Young Adult, Memoir

    thinandbeautiful.com

    This book was amazing in the sense that i have heard a lot about ED, and the girls (and boys) affected by it, but i never could understand their point of view. I never could tell how they refused to think that what they were doing was wrong and unhealthy.

    Thinandbeautiful.com showed me the perspective of a young girl with anorexia and bulimia, but she doesnt think she has it. No matter what, she tells herself she is ugly/fat, putting herself down. And she refuses to admit or even think that anyone is trying to help her. She thinks everyone is against her.

    It opened my eyes to the fact that nobody can truly understand what a person going through that is experiencing, even if its in journal form...

    a beautiful book, but extremely depressing. very very well written Young Adult, Memoir Grade: C-

    After reading an ARC copy of Liane Shaw's thoughtful novel THE COLOR OF SILENCE, I was eager to see read THINANDBEAUTIFUL.COM, hoping to find the same subtle insight and sensitivity. Instead, narrator Madison is self-centered, unfriendly and without depth. Maddie is superficial, and while on the surface eating disorders may seem superficial, they are mental illnesses about the underlying issues of trauma, low self esteem, depression, anxiety, family dysfunction and/or a whole host of other issues that have nothing to do with eating, food and weight.

    On the surface Maddie seemed to have it all, brains, looks, friends and a family who loved her. She believes her mother and Doctor think she's fat and that her life will be better if she loses weight. Fair enough. She's studied eating disorders in school and knows that pro-anorexia websites are dangerous, yet she finds a site where girls encourage each other to diet and claim they don't have eating disorders. My understanding of such sites is that anorexia is a goal, a badge of honor of sorts, although the girls on this site seem to believe they just want to be thin. Okay, maybe Shaw decided to go with this theory. Instead of being in denial, Madison seemed more clueless, lacking all insight. Not only was Maddie not introspective, but she was overtly unkind to her family and friends, especially her best friend.

    The treatment center bore no resemblance to any psych hospital or eating disorder treatment facility that would be licensed to operate in the USA. Everything from eating to attending groups was voluntary. Madison didn't have a roommate, possible in some more upscale centers, but she was allowed to stay in her room all day and write in her journal. She wasn't even requires to go to the cafeteria for meals. Shaw could have done better research about the types of therapies that structure inpatient hospitalizations.

    The ending was beyond clichéd. Can there be a book about eating disorders without a Big Event that causes the main character to have a proverbial lightbulb go off in her head and develop an instantaneous desire to embrace recovery?

    THEMES: friendship, mental health, eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, family, friendship

    THINANDBEAUTIFUL.COM is a forgettable story of a teenager resisting recovery from anorexia in a treatment facility. Young Adult, Memoir 2.5 Stars

    POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: Some material in this story --- especially the GWS chat logs --- could be possibly triggering for readers with sensitivities / tendencies towards eating disorders

    Taking inspiration from her own struggles with anorexia nervosa, author Liane Shaw brings readers the story of seventeen year old Maddie, who comes to find herself sucked into the world of thinspiration websites. These sites are a controversial area of the internet where advice and stories are shared that subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) encourage young women to turn to anorexia or bulimia to reach their frighteningly low goal weights. When we first meet Maddie, she has recently been sent to a rehab facility for eating disorder patients, her official diagnosis determined to be anorexia nervosa with bulimic tendencies. Though she denies she has a problem, when the therapist gives her a journal to write her story in, Maddie sees some benefit in the exercise, as it will allow her to tell her story from her perspective, so readers can choose for themselves whose side to take.

    No joke, Maddie starts from the VERY beginning...as in, the earliest days of childhood, sharing any pivotal moments she can recall that may or may not have led her to being in this facility now. Though it's not necessarily crucial to Maddie's ED story, there is some comedic relief from heavier subjects in her training bra-shopping story. She's an 11 year old girl, newly introduced to puberty, goes training bra shopping with her mom, and OF COURSE the two hottest guys in her class stroll into the store just as Maddie's mom is holding up various styles of boulder holders up to Maddie's chest trying to figure out what size to go with. Also gotta love Maddie's rant on the term training bra: What am I training them to do? I didn't even ask for them and now I have to teach them tricks?! 😄

    It's not until high school that we start getting to the core of Maddie's struggles that ultimately lead her down the ED path. The first big incident comes during her pre-HS physical exam, where a doctor tells her it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on her food intake / calorie count from here on out. Maddie interprets this as the doctor lowkey calling her fat. Just entering high school, Maddie is not the most popular student, but she's super curious as to what it must be like to be accepted into that crowd. Influenced by fashion magazines, social media, and the like, Maddie starts cutting back her portion sizes. Nothing alarming at first, but she gets a little addicted to the practice when she sees her clothing sizes steadily shrinking and the popular, pretty girls starting to initiate conversations with her, offering to do her makeup, etc.

    Maddie gradually reduces her caloric intake even more --- to the point where she's showing early signs of malnutrition: headaches, stomach pains, muscle aches, persistent fatigue --- but she just can't make herself stop. Even when her mother and her best friend try to voice concern, Maddie tunes it out, convinced some people just want to see her forever fat.

    The unhealthy habits go one step further the night she decides to do a Wikipedia search on the topic of eating disorders. While looking through that information, Maddie remembers a class discussion from awhile back regarding those thinspiration sites. A quick internet search pulls up pages of results for dozens of such sites, most with big disclaimers that say something to the effect of this site is not here to promote eating disorders, but rather simply sharing information for those who want it. Though that might be what the big disclaimers at the top of the page say, Maddie scrolls to the bottom of the page on one site to find a listing for about a dozen more sites --- THOSE links in much smaller font --- that DO lead visitors to questionable sites. The one that most grabs her attention is --- you guessed it --- thinandbeautiful.com.

    Through this site, Maddie meets and befriends the ladies of GWS (Girls Without Shadows). The shared goal of all these girls is to whittle themselves down so much that they create bodies that no longer cast shadows. GWS members try to be cute in their message board posts, using non-scary lingo to describe their methods --- choc tabs (laxatives), two finger tango (self induced vomiting) --- but the group later finds their actions have very real, very life-threatening consequences. Prior to that though, we witness the gradual pulling away Maddie has with formerly close friends and family, especially in the case of Maddie's longtime best friend, Annie.

    When Annie finds out about Maddie spending so much time on the thinspiration site, she tries to gently express concern and urges Maddie to seek help. Not surprisingly, Maddie's initial response is to get defensive and claim Annie just doesn't get it. She even goes so far as to claim the GWS are now her real friends... even though she's never met any of the GWS in person and she's been close with Annie since they were practically babies. Then there's later a scene where Maddie's mom wakes up to what's going on, and that's how we meet Maddie in rehab at the start of the book.

    As you might expect, given what we learn about Maddie pretty early on, she's strongly resistant to treatment of any kind. Remember, she doesn't believe she's the one with the problem. But also remember that this is a YA novel, and in YA novels virtually any conflict can be turned around with the appearance of a cute guy. Shaw delivers one in the form of Pieter, aka Wolf, the lone guy in Maddie's therapy group. But his involvement in the story is not as surface-level as you might be imagining. While yes, there's talk back and forth about how all the girls in therapy find him cute and mysterious and all that, Wolf also helps Maddie realize some important stuff... such as the usefulness in being open to therapy, even group therapy! With Wolf's encouragment, Maddie begins to take treatment more seriously and whaddayaknow, turns out there is benefit in hearing the stories of others with similar struggles! Wolf's backstory also serves to illustrate how males can develop an eating disorder in a world where the trouble is typically associated with female patients.

    For the topics it addresses, all the different trigger scenarios Shaw illustrates, taking time to incorporate Wolf's story and show how even men are affected by ridiculous body standards often pushed by social media... for all that, I give this story credit. But the plot itself could've been a lot tighter, more tension incorporated. It had that yeah, good start, but.... feel through a lot of the story. While Maddie does have some moving lines here and there, I was hoping for the book to pack a stronger punch in general. Maddie's closing thoughts left me wondering if she was really going to have any long-term success with this therapy. Even at story's close, it seemed like she was only minimally processing all the warnings people were trying to give her. Young Adult, Memoir I mean... it was alright. I guess. Maddie sounds more like a middle schooler than a 17 year old, and the formatting didn't work. Journal? Really? It doesn't read like a journal. I just... Idk, man, idk. It was just okay. Nothing special. Young Adult, Memoir Read in 2011 and then again in 2019 because I was curious about what I'd felt underwhelming the first time. I think it's this: addressing the idea of pro-ana sites probably felt much more novel and exciting when the book was published in 2009 than it does now. As it it, the plot is pretty much every other basic YA eating disorder novel with the very slight twist that some of the backstory involves a website where girls encourage each other to starve each other while denying any possibility of an eating disorder and claiming that it's all just lifestyle choice. (This is surprising to me, actually; anyone who's spent any time at all on similar real-life sites will know that there's...extensive aspiration towards disorder labels.) Instead of Maddy having an in-person friend who dies of an eating disorder, which is common in this subgenre, .

    Two and a half stars, I think; it's not at all terrible but a bit lackluster. Young Adult, Memoir