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Kim: Empty Inside - Beatrice Sparks

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Beatrice Sparks / Mass Market Paperback / Reading Level: Young Adult / 176 Pages / Book is published 2002-04 by Harperteen

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      28.02.2008 23:10
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      The diary of a bulimic gymnast

      This book is a diary of a bulimic girl, edited by Beatrice Sparks. I'm not sure how much was changed during the editing process. Presumably, people's names were altered, but I'm not sure if any other contents of the diary were changed or amended. Certainly, this book is based on a real diary and therefore can be taken as a true and emotional account of one girl's suffering.

      Kim is a gymnast in her final year of high school, getting ready to go to college. Being a gymnast, she has to be careful of her weight if she's to do well, so there are comments right from the start about her weight and fears of being too fat.

      Initially, the diary entries focus more on her school, friends and family, along with her desire for a boyfriend. But, as the book continues, her concerns with food and her odd eating habits begin to play a larger part. They never completely take over and, as a reader, I was as much concerned with her relationship with her family and her crush on the intelligent Lawrence as I was about her eating disorder.

      I wonder, but I've no way of knowing, if the diary was editing to give it a more cohesive plot. There is a definite storyline to the book and it feels like a well-crafted plot, but I don't doubt that the entries are based on a true account.

      The fact that it's a diary lets the reader get right inside Kim's head and feel what she's feeling. The writing style is very simplistic, which makes it accessible to a range of reading levels. I got through this book in a couple of days. It's less than 170 pages, so it's hardly a daunting read.

      The diary entries are generally very short. A few are two or three pages, but most are around half a page. This means it's a great book for just picking up and reading a single diary entry if you're waiting for someone or something. You don't have to set aside time to get into it. That said, once you start learning about Kim's life and problems, you'll want to read further to find out how things turn out and how she copes.

      Kim is a very likeable character and it's very easy to understand things from her point of view. I always find this an important factor in deciding whether I like a book; do I want to spend time with the main character? In this case, the answer is a definite yes. I felt a great deal of sympathy for Kim and I cared about what happened to her.

      I would definitely recommend this book. It's a great insight into eating disorder sufferers and it's a moving and compelling story. It's honest and emotional. Even if it's not quite your cup of tea, it doesn't take long to read, so you won't waste much time if you give it a try. I would particularly recommend it to teenagers who are concerned about their weight.

      Because of its length and the shortness of the time needed for reading it, maybe buying it full price isn't great value for money. It might be better to look for a copy in the library or see if there's a second hand copy you can get relatively cheaply.

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