* Book Beginnings is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader, where every Friday, bloggers post the first sentence (or few sentences) of their current read, as well as their first impressions of the book! *
This week, I’ll be highlighting one of my current reads, The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller.
Congratulations! You have acquired one human body. This was a poor decision, but it is probably too late for you to do anything about it. Life, alas, has an extremely strict return policy.
Not that I’m some kind of expert or anything, but as an almost-seventeen-year veteran of having a body, I’ve learned a few basic rules that might save you some of my misery. So I’m writing this Rulebook as a public service. Please note, however, that there are a lot of rules, and some of them are very difficult to follow, and some of them sound crazy, and please don’t come crying to me if something terrible happens when you can only follow half of them.
This book just released earlier this week from the people at HarperTeen, who were kind enough to send me a beautiful finished hardback for reviewing purposes! I was hoping to actually finish it and get you guys a review by the time it released, but it only arrived last week and it’s been a very long week in my house. 😩 I digress!
I loved this opening monologue. I enjoy second-person writing in small doses, and when it’s done well, but my favorite part of this was the way it immediately sets up our narrator’s introduction: he’s young, but cynical, sarcastic, and maybe a little bit bitter about something.
Given that this book is about a gay teen struggling with eating disorders, we already know it’s not going to be a walk in a field of flowers, but it’s still nice to see the author make that abundantly clear for anyone who, I dunno, blind purchased the book, or, like me, tends to sometimes forget what a book’s synopsis is in between time of purchase and time of actually reading.
As I’m writing this, I’m maybe a quarter of the way through the book, and I’m feeling very mixed on it so far! I love the narrator’s voice more than I can honestly describe, but a certain story arc is bothering me a little, and I’m sure I’ll get to that (in great, rambling detail) when I post my review. That said, just a few pages in, there’s a mention of Zuko/Sokka shipping (*fangirlish screaming ensues*), and any A:TLA reference is automatically going to throw a million brownie points on my review score, in all transparency.
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.