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What She Reads (UK)

The Disappearing Girl - Heather Topham Wood


I've got a close connection to this story, which is sometimes all together quite hard to read but i'm very understanding of the subjects. This book has been beautifully written.


The cover art doesn't do this book justice. The girl on the cover for one looks extremely young, a lot younger than the twenty one year old Kayla. The frame/mirror is too cliche for my liking... but it's not a bad cover, probably just not the best for this book.


We open up with Kayla a 145lbs (ish) twenty year old girl. She's at home for winter break to visit with her sister and her mother. Kayla's mother has always been her and her sisters biggest critique and this christmas is goes too far. Without her father there anymore to rein their mother in she lets loose. Out of anger Kayla goes on her first binge, she runs out and buys a load of junk food... enough to feed a party, and eats it all. When she's finished she's repulsed by what she has done, she then rushes home and purges. During the winter break it's all the same, it total she loses 5lbs.

As she's heading back to college and says her goodbyes her mother praises her on how well she's looking now that she's back in control of her diet but what he mother doesn't know she's not in control. It's the same when she gets back to her town house in which she shares with her best friend and two other roomates, she's praised for looking good and losing a bit of weight which then Kayla instantly thinks maybe she had put on too much weight, maybe she is seen as the fat girl of the group after all .

First week back at college and Kayla runs into a hot credit card sales man, Cameron. He stops her and tries to persuade her to fill out an application for a credit card, she's very reluctant at first but then she does. When she turns away from him he shout 'i'll be here till the end of the week'.

I loved how this was written, I'm not too sure if it was my understanding of Kayla or the author had intentionally done this but as it was written in first person I felt her beliefs and her wanting. It almost felt like i was understanding and knowing (because that's what Kayla thinks) she's not doing anything wrong. My subconscious was obviously screaming in my head through this whole book.

The timescale of this book is over about 8-9 months and we see how quickly and damaging this can be to someone who doesn't necessarily have the correct support, thats not to say she didn't have people who cared she just didn't have anyone who knew how to approach her. She drops 45lbs over 3-4 months which then starts to raise concern with her boyfriend and her sister. When they try to help her she lashes out, becomes someone completely new and after this we see her venture into the online world of Pro Ana.


Kayla, of course as i mentioned i felt quite connected to Kayla. Once you are in that state of mind it is hard to come out but what most people don't realise eating disorders don't just come about because someone wants to be thin it is actually a lot deeper. We learn over the book that Kayla actually has been diagnosed with BDD (Body dysmorphic disorder) it is a mental illness where someone is affected by their own perception of their body causing obsessive behaviours, just like we see in Kayla. What everyone can see of her is not what her mind sees in the mirror which again we find out Kayla loathes herself so much she avoids mirrors all together. so she doesn't even take the time to really look at herself.

Cameron reminds me of someone quite close to me. He loves and cares for Kayla so much he will do just about anything for her, when she viciously lashes out at him he doesn't want to run for the hills instead he wants to hold her and help her. Cameron is a great character and it helps show the reader just about anyone can have an eating disorder, it doesn't matter if they're single or in a relationship, male or female.

We see of course her mother has some issues of her own because lets be honest what mother in their right mind would turn round and tell their daughters they're too big to find love. We know that her family are all suffering quite a bit with the death of Kayla's father and it appears no one has has time to mourn.

I give this a rating of...



For anyone out there who is suffering with an eating disorder or who has BDD you are not alone. You have friends and family who do really and truly care about you. You can fight this and it IS POSSIBLE to get better. It will be hard but you can. For anyone who thinks they know someone who may be suffering with an eating disorder please click the link below on tips and advice.

You can BEAT it!