The art of starving

Sam J. Miller

Book - 2017

A bullied gay teen boy with an eating disorder believes he's developed super powers via starvation.

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : HarperTeen [2017]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
372 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780062456717
0062456717
Main Author
Sam J. Miller (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Miller's heartfelt debut novel tackles difficult subjects with a bold mix of magical realism, tender empathy, and candor. Matt, 16, lives in a rural upstate New York town with a single mother who slaughters hogs at the local processing plant. Matt is desperate because his beloved older sister, Maya, has left home, supposedly to record an album with her punk band, although he fears she's met a worse fate at the hands of a group of high-school bullies led by handsome Tariq, an object of desire for both Matt and Maya. Feeling powerless, Matt realizes he can maintain control over one thing: the calories he consumes. As he restricts his food intake, Matt feels his other senses sharpen to the point where he believes he has superpowers, hearing and seeing other people's thoughts, and influencing others with his own commands. Matt is delusional and anorexic, but he's also an admirably strong character who is out and proud, brilliant, creative, and determined to survive. It's not always easy to find novels with troubled gay male protagonists who aren't doomed, and Miller's creative portrait of a complex and sympathetic individual will provide a welcome mirror for kindred spirits. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Matt, a gay high school junior, is bent on uncovering the reason his older sister, Maya, suddenly left town after meeting up with senior soccer star Tariq. Certain that something happened between Maya and Tariq, Matt works to earn Tariq's trust, ignoring his own attraction to him while planning his revenge. Though Matt insists that he doesn't have an eating disorder, he limits his food intake, believing the hunger sharpens his senses and allows him to see beyond the facade of everyday life. Each chapter opens with Matt's rules detailing the "art of starving," and readers will realize the depth of his dangerous downward spiral straightaway. Believing "if someone knows what you want, they can hurt you in all sorts of ways," Matt is a master at suppressing his urges, but there is nothing romantic about debut novelist Miller's portrayal of anorexia; his descriptions are often graphic and disturbing, and discussion of Matt's future is brutally honest. As Matt's body deteriorates and his "powers" reach new levels, readers must decide for themselves what is and isn't real. Ages 13–up. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Company. (July) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 10 Up—The less Matt eats, the more control he has over his body. The more control he has, the stronger his powers get. And he needs his powers strong if he's going to find out what the bullies did to make his sister run away. And punish them. This is a compellingly narrated magical realism exploration of eating disorders, isolation, and desire. The first half makes for compulsive reading as teens watch Matt's war with his own body and the mysterious unfurling of his abilities. There are some well-crafted dives into how eating disorders are experienced by young men, and young gay men in particular. Unfortunately, the book's denouement falls largely flat, with pat resolutions and didactic twists, although it avoids the simple recovery trajectory trope. VERDICT A serviceable title for readers seeking an unconventional look at eating disorders and complicated gay romance.—L. Lee Butler, Hart Middle School, Washington, DC Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Matt's stomach stabs and twists, pleading for a meal, but Matt won't give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp -- and the less he eats the more he seems to have the ability to see things he shouldn't be able to see. Maybe even the authority tobend time and space. And Matt 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. But Matt doesn't realize there are many kinds of hunger -- and he isn't in control of all of them.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A gay teen with an eating disorder that he believes gives him supernatural powers decides to infiltrate the life of a bully he believes is responsible for driving away his sister.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A gay teen with an eating disorder that he believes gives him supernatural mental clarity decides to infiltrate the life of a bully responsible for driving away his sister, an effort that leads to a greater awareness of body image, self-acceptance and the things he cannot control. Simultaneous eBook. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Winner of the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book!'Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless, and powerful, The Art of Starving is a classic in the making.''Book RiotMatt 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.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Winner of the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book!“Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless, and powerful, The Art of Starving is a classic in the making.”—Book RiotMatt 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.