Book Review: Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle

Book Review: Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle

I picked this book up because e.E.Charlton-Trujillo posted on her instagram about it and I thought I would take her advice on what to read (she’s a discerning reader and knows all about great Young Adult literature, being a great YA writer herself). She wrote “There are about twenty books that I wish could be taught in every high school in America. This is one of them.” (The photo below is from her page.)screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-9-17-34-am

So, truthfully, it took me a long time to read Elena Vanishing from start to finish. I found myself reading 20 or 30 pages and having to put it down and walk away from it.  It was powerful and raw, but so hard to read about a young woman who cannot see her own beauty.

I have had students in the past who have struggled with an eating disorder, and although I remember telling them how smart and beautiful they were, I still never could really understand what they were grappling with and how they were feeling. This book has offered me a window to a struggle I’ve never really known. One quote to consider in this vein: “Where does thin become fat? Where does success become failure? Where does a great future become a horrible past full of heartache and regret?”

When I finished, I handed it off to a ninth grade teacher and talked to some of them about maybe using it with Speak or for their memoir units. In the end, it is a book that made me uncomfortable, and I think that’s important to feel. I am consciously seeking that in my reading these days rather than defaulting to what I know I will love and what will not necessarily, as the kids say, help me be woke (or get woke? still learning that one).

Posted by Kate, Blog Editor and Book Reviewer for PCTELA

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Book Review: Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle

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