by: Jackie Morse Kessler
published in 2010
Hunger's dedication page says:
"If you ever looked in the mirror, and hated what you saw,
This book is for you"
Lisbeth Lewis is an anorexic girl who meets Death when she overdoses on her mother's medication. Instead of killing her, he gives her the job of Famine, one of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (The other horsemen are Death, War and Pestilence).
The chapters go back and forth between her troubled life and her journeys as a Horseman. She hasn't spoken to her best friend Suzanne since Suzanne 'accused' her of anorexia, and her boyfriend doesn't like her new friend Tammy very much. As Lisbeth, she's always cold, has trouble remembering things and is terrified of losing her boyfriend.
As Famine, she travels the world on her black steed Midnight, witnessing firsthand the many faces of hunger: both the hunger of the over-indulged rich and of the children who eat cakes made from dirt instead of flour and sugar.
I'm torn about this book. Totally torn. It's definitely for older teenagers, and there is some swearing and some sex, which are things I hate to recommend in a book. But, wow. There are lots of books about girls dealing with eating issues, but there is something so powerful about adding this mythology to the story. You can pull many messages from this story, but the two that really resonated with me were that you can't help other people if you don't first take care of yourself, and that there are some problems that we are not strong enough to handle alone. It also made me think about the need for balance--it isn't any healthier for life to be a feast all the time, than it would be for life to always be a famine.
The back of the book is really misleading--it talks about a sexy, funny Death. Yeah, he's supposed to be sexy, and he's got a sense of humor, but he's not really a big part of the story. I think the blurb was trying to convey that the subject matter is not handled in nearly as dark a way as it sounds...and that's true. Somehow it manages to stay entertaining.
I recommend this book cautiously. It's a thought provoking book and it contains a message of hope and love, but there is some moral relativism. Parents, this is a great book to talk about with your older teen.