Raise Your Voice 2016 with Stephanie Elliot

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Stephanie Elliot

Stephanie Elliot was inspired to write Sad Perfect by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and is a book reviewer, a parenting columnist, and an editor. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and their three children.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

(You can add Sad Perfect to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

As a person who has struggled with food and weight her whole life as well as depression, books on these particular topics offered me comfort when I was younger. Reading books with relatable characters made me feel less alone in a world that felt very lonely at the time.

One of the first books I ever remember falling in love with was Blubber by Judy Blume. As a pudgy fifth grader, I felt a connection to the character they called Blubber. Jennifer Weiner’s character, Cannie, in Good In Bed struggled with her weight. Wally Lamb created a main character in Dolores I will never forget in his debut, She’s Come Undone. All these years later, I am still in awe that a man wrote such a compelling female main character. More recently, I read Paperweight by Meg Haston, a story about a girl with an eating disorder who is sent to a place for recovery. All of these characters struggled with weight issues and eating problems. All of these characters went through bouts of depression. Some of these characters were ridiculed for their weight. I felt like a part of me was a part of them.

This is why reading is important. We connect with the words on the page; we feel a part of us in a part of the characters, a part of us in the stories we read, and that’s why we are drawn to certain types of books. That’s why I love to read stories about women who have some of the same problems that I have, or have had, or who feel the same way I have felt.

Books remind us that we’re not alone.

Mental disorders can make us feel alone. Depression, anxiety, not being able to eat, not wanting to eat, feeling pressure to eat, having to hide what we eat – these issues cause us to feel lonely. And scared. Because food is all around us. It’s required of us. For survival. Usually three to five times a day, people eat. Food is at parties, social events, at work, and family outings, sporting events, at weddings and births and funerals, and, well, you name it, and food is usually there.

When there’s an eating disorder involved, food becomes a monster. Food keeps the disordered eater sad and depressed, and filled with anxiety. Food can keep the person with the eating disorder away from her (or his) loved ones; and when isolated and alone, the depression will grow stronger. The mental illness gets even more serious.

While I have overcome my eating issues, my daughter has grown up with a unique problem of her own, one that is not so commonly known. Aside from anorexia and bulimia, there’s a new eating disorder called ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. My daughter is in recovery for this eating disorder. There are not many doctors who know how to treat ARFID, which in simple terms is the extreme fear of food. People with ARFID stick to a very small menu of safe foods and will often gag or vomit if they are forced to try a new food. ARFID causes anxiety and depression, but has no self-image component like with anorexia and bulimia.

Currently, there are no books with characters who have ARFID, so I wrote one.

Sad Perfect is about a girl with ARFID, much like my daughter, who goes in to a recovery program, like my daughter did. I needed to write something for all the girls and boys out there who struggle with this newly named disorder so they can see themselves in a book. I didn’t want them to feel even more alone than they already do. They needed a book too, like how I had plenty to choose from when I was growing up.

It’s important that everyone has a book in which they can relate. No one should feel so alone and so misunderstood. This is why books are so needed, why we need #OwnVoices books. Why we need to tell our stories, and we need to share, and share honestly, no matter how painful or how truthful it is. It is so teens don’t have to feel alone and scared and so they don’t have to feel that no one cares about them.

This is why I write. I wanted to tell my own story, and I needed teens with anxiety, depression, and those who suffer from eating disorders, specifically ARFID, to know that they are definitely not alone.

Title Sad Perfect
Author Stephanie Elliot
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
To Be Published February 28th, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Told in second person, Sad Perfect is the heartbreaking and visceral story of a girl with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, a unique eating disorder. It is also a story about disease, love, and recovery.

For sixteen­-year­-old Pea, eating has always been difficult. Some people might call her a picky eater, but she knows it’s more than that, and it’s getting worse. And now there’s a monster raging inside of her, one that controls more than just her eating disorder. The monster is growing, and causing anxiety, depression, and dangerous thoughts.

When Pea meets Ben and they fall crazy­mad in love, she tries to keep the monster hidden. But the monster wants out, and as much as she tries, she can’t pretend that the bad in her doesn’t exist. Unable to control herself, a chain of events thrusts Pea into a situation she never imagined she’d find herself in.

With the help of Ben, her family, and her best friend, Pea must find the inner strength to understand that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

2 responses to “Raise Your Voice 2016 with Stephanie Elliot”

  1. Kristin C says:

    I can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for sharing your #OwnVoice.

  2. Stephanie Elliot says:

    Thank you Kristin!

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