A novel about a character living with anorexia and bulimia and hiding the illness. A challenging novel for our contemporary society, with its unconventional style and themes breaking new ground.
As well as educating others about the reality of living or suffering from eating disorders, Madi's story is one that many young people can relate to, and have the comfort of being able to read about their experiences in Welsh. The value of having an original novel dealing with mental illness for young people in Welsh should also be emphasized.
The author does not shy away from complex and profound topics when dealing with eating disorders. In choosing such an intense subject, the author has a responsibility to do justice to those living with the illness while staying true to their experiences, but Dewi Wyn Williams succeeds in presenting an honest and real picture. not overdramatic.
Anorexia is portrayed through the character of 'Voice', who begins as an imaginary best friend of Madi as a child, but who quickly becomes a bully and a major enemy as Madi's condition worsens. The portrayal of the illness as a character is effective and shows its ubiquity and highlights how difficult it is to ignore. It is easy for readers to forget that Voice does not exist, and that it is only a 'voice' in Madi's head as the portrait is so vivid.
The topics become more intense as the novel progresses, the illness develops and Madi's thoughts get darker, and Voice becomes more influential and prominent in her life. We see Madi's mental condition getting worse as she loses more weight and loses herself in the illness. However, Madi continues to deny that she is ill.
Although this is a story of anorexia and bulimia, it has elements and themes that many young people can identify with; adolescence, loneliness, parental separation, stress and depression.
The finale is gripping and ambiguous as readers do not know whether or not Madi is recovering, which conveys the complexity of the recovery process reflecting the tension and uncertainty in the minds of those who living with the illness whether they want to recover or not.
However, the novel is not without its weaknesses. Each chapter begins with a fact about food, which usually includes the number of calories in different foods, which can intensify the obsessive element for the person with eating disorders, and be triggering. On one hand, the inclusion of these numbers is unnecessary, but on the other, it shows how obsessed calories are for Madi, and perhaps referring to this as a weakness in the novel is misleading. The novel also contains descriptions of self-harm, and a warning should have been included at the beginning of the book.
However, that does not detract from the fact that there is a gripping and contemporary novel. The short chapters make the novel very easy to read, and Niki Pilkington's colorful and attractive illustrations, both on the cover and inside the book, are a unique and beautiful addition.
As we delve into Madi's mind, we get a real insight into the thinking of those living with anorexia and bulimia. Although this is an imaginary character story, readers are forced to think of all the young women like Madi who suffer from this illness in our society on a daily basis, and as such, we gain more empathy and sympathy towards them.
Manon Elin James from www.gwales.com
Author: Dewi Wyn Williams
Publication Date: March2019