________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 3. . . .September 18, 2009



Lesley Fairfield.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
120 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-903-0.

Subject Headings:
Anorexia nervosa-Comic books, strips, etc. Bulimia-Comic books, strips, etc.
Eating disorders-Comic books, strips, etc.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Marsha Skrypuch.

**** /4

Reviewed from Prepublication Copy.


There are many things that are standard about this eating disorder novel. Like so many, the storyline begins with the main character named Anna in this case as she is in the worst stages of her disease. The narration then flips back in time to her early childhood and teen years, highlighting her evolving attitude towards friends and family, food and body image. Like so many novels of the genre, the main character's catharsis comes at the death of a friend who also has an eating disorder.

internal art      But Tyranny transcends the genre in spades. First, it is a graphic novel. This is a particularly apt format for the subject because the reader can see Anna's dysmorphia with their own eyes. On each page, Anna's image belies her words. Fairfield shows Anna's struggle as a conflict between two people inside the same body. The one who wants her to not eat is called Tyranny. Anna must fight with Tyranny. She must conquer Tyranny. This is a great analogy for an eating disorder. The novel as a whole is nothing short of brilliant.

     The language is spare and unflinching. The illustrations are eye-catching, and the various boxes and asides provide more information than a simple narrative can.

     Writing about eating disorders is a tricky thing. Handled irresponsibly, a novel can became a manual for developing an eating disorder; handled well, a novel can inform and warn and save lives. Tyranny falls into the second category, and it manages to be a compelling read as well. This novel will appeal to the exact person who should read it: teens, whether they're strong readers or not. And because it is short, gut-punching, and never condescending, those readers will be informed of the dangers and will be given tools to avoid an eating disorder. Readers who already have an eating disorder will see themselves in the pages and may seek help.

     I hope every school and library in the country buys this book because it could save lives. Lesley Fairfield's writing and drawings and message all shine.

Highly Recommended.

Marsha Skrypuch's eleventh book, Call Me Aram, was published in 2009. Her first novel, The Hunger, was time-travel about an anorexic teen.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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