Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Sam J. Miller
Publisher: Harper Collins
Matt’s mother is struggling to keep her low-paying job at the slaughterhouse, and Matt’s older sister Maya has run away from home. To compound these issues, Matt suspects Tariq (a boy Matt both hates and loves) may have been involved in Maya’s disappearance. Life for Matt changes when he discovers the superhuman abilities he develops when his body is deprived of food. Matt wants to use his powers to help find his sister and punish whoever has hurt her. As Matt tries to discover what has made his sister leave, he becomes entangled in a tempestuous relationship with Tariq and works to heighten his superpowers by eating less and less. The story culminates with Matt’s body finally passing out from lack of nutrition, and he’s forced to confront the fact that his superpowers are really just his mind’s way of combating his anorexia.
The Art of Starving is well written. The observations that Miller makes through Matt are interesting, thought-provoking, and often extremely poignant. The subject matter is dealt with incredibly well. Miller’s writing is both humorous and introspective, lending the story a whimsical and deep feel simultaneously. This writing style helps the subject matter, which is often dark, feel both lighthearted and universal. Readers will find many ways to relate to Matt’s character and the struggles he faces. Miller does use graphic language to describe some scenes with sexual content. And the magical realism feel of some of the latter scenes may derail readers a little. But overall, readers will find the honesty of this novel refreshing and the humor, if a bit dark at times, good.
*Contains severe language and severe sexual content.