AUTHOR: Chandler Morrison
AGE RANGE: Adult
PUBLISHER: Cemetery Gates Media
Los Angeles fashion model Helen Troy wasn’t always skinny. Drastic weight loss has given her everything–money, confidence, attention, respect. Being thin has legitimized her, and starvation has become an addiction.
Following an encounter with a seemingly “perfect” rival model who destabilizes Helen’s shaky self-confidence and shatters her fragile illusion of control, she’s sent into a tragic tailspin that will take her to the lowest depths of hell. Nightmarish versions of herself begin materializing in mirrors, and her tried-and-true coping mechanisms stop working. Reality comes apart at the seams as Helen’s disease manifests in increasingly self-destructive fashions, forcing her to ask herself…
What does perfection look like, and how much would you sacrifice to obtain it?
You never realize how fragile you are until you’re already in pieces.
Before I give my thoughts on #thighgap, I feel obligated to tell you that it’s likely to be an upsetting read for a lot of readers. Not only does the book detail some gruesome side effects of severely disordered eating (our narrator Helen is very pro-ED), but it also includes a tremendous amount of body-shaming. Nearly everyone Helen meets is deemed too fat, too old, too lazy, and/or too ugly in her eyes, and her perspective on beauty and class is downright nauseating to read at times.
Helen and nearly everyone around her are horribly unlikeable, especially the men she spends the majority of her time with. While the elements of Helen’s ED and the things she begins to witness are unsettling all on their own, the parts of this book that actually disturbed me the most were how disgusting some of the men were, whether it was making pedophilic comments or discouraging Helen from seeking treatment because they worried she would gain weight.
Of course, the terrible nature of these characters is a massive part of the appeal in this story: it’s like a train wreck you can’t quite look away from, even though every page is turning your stomach a little more sour. I had to see what would happen next, what choices Helen would make, and where we were heading with her visions — especially the corpse girl, whose descriptions were genuinely my favorite part of the entire book.
As for the downsides, the dialogue was a little off-putting for me. Helen and multiple other characters constantly pause mid-sentence, complete with ellipses, and it kept pulling me out of the moment. Things also began to feel a little bit repetitive at times, especially with the name-dropping of luxury brands — but I’m someone who’s very out of touch with designers and didn’t recognize half of the names mentioned, so I don’t think they’ll bother plenty of other readers who might be more in-tune with the world of fashion.
With these minor negatives aside, I’m still very excited to have finally experienced Chandler Morrison’s writing after hearing so many of my friends rave about his work for years, and I’ll be back for more, no doubt.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you to the publisher & Sadie Hartmann for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.
disordered eating/anorexia/bulimia, self-harm, gratuitous body-shaming/fat-shaming, vomiting, brief pedophilic comments, brief mention of miscarriage, drug use, alcohol use, bullying, classism, descriptions of decay
— destiny ♥