Monday, 30 November 2009

Review: Monkey Taming

Sorry this is a day later than originally planned. I ended up sleeping in on Sunday and only just completing my homework in time. Today's review is of the book "Monkey Taming" by Judith Fathallah. Here is the blurb:


When Jessica was thirteen years old, she met the Monkey.

The Monkey lived inside her: a driving, fiery voice telling her than thinness was the only way to be safe, to be acceptable and, above all, to escape from the looming threat of approaching adulthood. Jessica listened to the Monkey, and it consumed her.

Through memory, reflection and enduring black humour, this is the illuminating story of a teenage girl's wanderings in darkness: the spiral down into madness, the terrible realities of an adolescent psychiatric unit, and the final stark choice - either tame her monkey or die.

I picked up this book from the library when I saw it on sale. It was 10p (can't beat a library sale) and the cover initially intrigued me.

The main character in this book is Jessica, a thirteen year old anorexic girl. She wasn't always anorexic but she convinced herself that if she was slimmer, everything would be better. Jessica thought she was fat and was determined to lose weight. But then she started hearing the Monkey, a voice in her head, and it became an obsession. Jessica was struggling with emotions before she started her starvation regime. And everytime she wanted to get better, for other people rather than herself, the Monkey won.

Jessica's mother is also quite a big influence on Jessica. She used to be slim herself and initially encouraged Jessica to lose weight. I don't think she is mean at all when she said that Jessica should start doing something about getting slim rather than keep going on about it. No one really knows what impact their words will have. She also supports Jessica and tries to get her the help that she needs.

The plot of this story follows Jessica's downward spiral in to anorexia and the obsession food became with her. I don't feel I'm ruining the story for you by typing this next bit as it's in the blurb, Jessica is admitted to an adolescent psychiatric ward. Just reading about the ward I knew why Jessica hated it. Some people there cared about those who were admitted whilst others just seemed to be cruel and vindictive, particularly a woman nicknamed Eleanor the Troll. Eleanor seemed to think that Jessica could just decide to eat again, when in reality, it's not that simple. Hearing about others who had been admitted i.e. other anorexics and one girl called Bethany who was a self harmer, I felt that it was so sad these people weren't receiving the help they needed. The amount of anger Jessica has at the psychiatric ward and their unfair treatment sucks in the reader to agreeing with them. I felt that the emotions that were conveyed were so strong that it must have come from Judith Fathallah's own experience in a psychiatric ward and suffering from anorexia. It was truly powerful writing.

This book was impossible to put down. It really was. I read this book about 3-4 months ago and I still remember it. It is a book that will linger in your mind. I really recommend you read it.

And a really powerful paragraph from the book can be found here.

5 out of 5 stars.



(I'm currently thinking of changing my rating system, so it'll be out of five stars for the time being).

5 comments:

  1. I read this book a couple of years ago and you're right - it's memorable. Great review - thanks!

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  2. I love books on eating disorders--this sounds really great. Have you read Winter Girls? That's another really good one.

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  3. This sounds like a really powerful read. Thanks for the reviwe, Kate!

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  4. What an interesting idea to have an internal monkey voice in the main character's head. You'd think instead of telling her not to eat, the monkey would make her snarf down banannas all day!

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  5. Wow this was really wonderful, i liked reading this blog, this is really amazing, thanks a lot for sharing this with us. Great work, keep it up.

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