In this semi-autobiographical work, J.J. Johnson tells readers about her own experiences of being hospitalized for an eating disorder. She battles alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia, and more, but beyond that, Jennifer must also convince her own parents that she is in fact sick.
Jennifer enjoys watching Star Trek, dancing at the Y, drawing and painting, and going to the movies, yet she is plagued by a constant need to please others and to look “thin.” Jennifer’s story is a challenging one, but it provides relatable concepts for adolescent girls who have ever dealt with body issues or low self esteem. At one of her low points in the hospital, Jennifer hopes to one day become a grown, healthy woman who can look back on her current circumstances and help make sense of them. She realizes then that despite her challenges, Jennifer must learn to hope, and above all, she must learn to believe.
The format of the book itself echoes Jennifer’s constant battles. The pages begin in blank verse with short, choppy sentences that reflect Jennifer’s conflicting thoughts. The text itself is also a shadow of the black text typically found in books; thus reflecting Jennifer’s own feelings of emptiness. However, as her story progresses, blank verse melts into prose and the text on each page darkens to its normal color. Jennifer is regaining control over her mind and of her body; therefore, the book does too.