The Candy Shop War
by Brandon Mull
I'm a fan of Brandon Mull. I like the writing. I like his clever little stories and character-appropriate dialogue. With that said, one might think that I would naturally enjoy The Candy Shop War. It's good that one would think I would naturally enjoy The Candy Shop War, because, I did, in fact, enjoy this Candy Shop War, naturally.
Spouse and Yahoo #1 read the book earlier and would often reference the magic candy dolled out by the neighborhood candy shop. Now I get their jokes. It's great when you understand the nuances of your own family jokering? Ain't it?
Most of these young adult-ish books turn into predictable bores. Most. But not this one. There were a fair amount of surprises in this story. Good surprises. Surprises that, on more than one occasion, made me put the book down, and proclaim loudly to no one, "Holy crap! I did not see that coming!"
Here's where you get the irony of my book report: I finished a book that goes on and on about candy, fudge, sweets and ice cream, then picked up a memoir about anorexia and bulimia. No kidding.
This Wasted book was phenomenal. First, the writing is exquisite. Second, anorexia and bulimia is topic in the which I find much intrigue. Third, Ms. Hornbacher writes about her anorexia and bulimia spells in a matter-of-fact-non-dramatic-its-hardly-glamorous fashion.
There were a few things I learned from this book. Mostly I learned that I need to be a more nurturing parent and wife, which was collected from this acrid truth about inter-spousal relations:
"My parents did not, to the best of my knowledge, like each other very much, though I do know that they loved each other. They're still married. They honk and bite and flap their wings at each other like cranky old geese, but they're married. They, like a lot of parents of eating-disordered people, were notably unsupportive of each other when I was a kid. Jealous of each other's successes, bitterly sarcastic toward each other. The shrinks note that a couple who cannot nurture each other cannot consistently nurture a child either. Shrinks also note that, lacking a marital alliance, each parent will try to ally him/herself with the child. The child becomes a pawn, a bartering piece, as each parent competes to be the best, most nurturing parents, as determined by whom the child loves more. It was my job to act like I loved them both best--when the other one wasn't around." (Page 26.)Not that the Spouse and I honk at each other, or that we have a jealousy issue, but this little ditty made me think about marital nurturing. It had never occurred to me that, perhaps, the Spouse needs some nurturing. And that, perhaps, I could provide a nurturing gesture or two. (Wink-wink-nudge-nudge-know-what-I-mean?)
Eating disorders start out with the intent of acquiring the ultimate thin, then eventually morph into issues about control. Most people with eating disorders believe that all will be well, that they will be happy, that success will be achieved, if only they become the "perfect amount of thin." The truth, however, is that the "perfect amount of thin" is unattainable. Like Marya Hornbacher found, for example. She set her sites on her desired thin -- which was way too thin to begin with -- then whittled herself down to 52 pounds and knocking on death's door.
In the U.S., none of us are starving. There are pockets of starving people here and there, but as a whole, the U.S. is not starving. The U.S. is not working day-in and day-out to feed ourselves. Most people do not wake first thing, with the worry of feeding their family, with the wonder of where they will get the next meal. Strangely, our culture sees thin as successful and "fat" as unsuccessful. In other cultures, where food isn't quite as abundant, being "fat" is a sign of wealth.
As Hornbacher suggests, "This is one of the terrible, banal truths of eating disorders: when a woman is thin in this culture, she proves her worth, in a way that no great accomplishment, no stellar career, nothing at all can match. We believe she has done what centuries of a collective unconscious insist that no woman can do--control herself. A woman who can control herself is almost as good as a man. A thin woman can Have It All." (Page 81-82.)In order to feel accomplished and successful, Marya Hornbacher believed she needed a, "gleeful clattering set of bones." (Page 82.)
Is she cured now? Has she conquered the unconquerable, and is now living a life of balanced bliss? Hardly. And she's very forthright about it. Eating disorders are an addiction that, just like alcoholism, require a lifetime of treatment. And support.
Speaking of support, here's an uplifting thought: "And when you decide you are tired of being alone with your sickness, you go out seeking women friends, people who you believe can show you by example how to eat, how to live--and you find that by and large most women are obsessed with their weight. It's a little discouraging." (Page 282.)
What's the answer? Well, there isn't one. Although, I would suggest running because running is my answer to everything. Warts? Try running. Back hurts? Try running. ADHD? Try running. If you think about it however, running is a good answer for an eating disorder. You gotta eat to run. You cannot fake the fuel.
Now. Are ready for more irony? I just started The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
The Candy Shop War -- Wasted -- The Hunger Games
(Can you see why I think I'm on the verge of developing an eating disorder? Expecially while carb depleting?)