SPOILER AND TRIGGER WARNINGS IN FULL EFFECT.
Title: Sad Perfect
Author: Stephanie Elliot
Review: The opening to Sad Perfect was great we meet Pea who is a sixteen-year-old with an eating disorder although she doesn’t see it this way she just thinks she is a picky eater. Her best friend Jae introduces her to Ben who she has an instant connection with. Pea’s mother intends to take her to a facility that specializes in curing eating disorders. While I liked the way, the story starts I didn’t immediately connect with the second person narrative but it was unique. Pea starts dating Ben which she loves as he makes her feel normal but she also starts therapy which makes her feel terrible a she must voice things she never has before like her attitude towards food and what she is and isn’t willing to eat and why.
As we approach the 1/4 mark in the novel we learn that Pea has a condition called ARFID meaning that eating is extremely uncomfortable and difficult for her but her time with Ben makes it bearable although he doesn’t know about her condition. We see Pea’s family life is difficult because her mother smothers Pea, her dad is hands-off and her brother just ignore her most of the time so when her friends aren’t around Pea feels extremely lonely. I loved seeing Pea and Ben’s relationship develop as she doesn’t feel the “monster” when she is around him although she still can’t find the right words to tell him about her disorder.
As we cross the 1/4 mark in the novel we see Pea make a lot of progress so much so she even feels she can stop taking her depression medication because Ben makes her so happy especially after she tells him about her illness and he doesn’t freak out about it. Although on the first day back at school after the summer holidays she does struggle to get herself out of bed but she does make it with some unintentional help from both Ben and Jae.
As we approach the half way mark in the novel we see the consequences of Pea rejecting her medication, she pushes Ben away and retreats into herself although she does continue with her therapy almost everyone can see she is more withdrawn and she eventually turns to self-harm to keep the monster quiet. I kind of saw the self-harm coming after she stops her medication but it is still extremely sad to watch Pea retreat into herself and to experience the loneliness and isolation she feels at this point in her life. School doesn’t seem to help Pea as she pushes her friends away and having her ex-boyfriend Alex in the picture only heightens her anxiety. I felt very sorry for Pea but I also felt she should have made the effort to talk to Ben after she made him leave because I felt he would have understand what Pea was going through and been able to help her.
As we cross into the second half of the novel we see the conflicting side of Pea’s life, we see her happy side after she gets back together with Ben and he advises her to go back on her medication and he even manages to get her to take a small bite of a turkey and cheese sandwich which is a huge step for her. But we see her dark side when someone at school probably her ex-boyfriend Alex tells a teacher that Pea is self-harming and because of this she is being sent to St. Joe’s psychiatric hospital but only for a short while which she hates because no one will listen to her and because no one understands what is going on in her own mind. Pea’s parents also see Ben as a bad influence on their daughter as all her “problems” in their eyes started when she met him although we know this is false and that Ben is one of the only people helping Pea with her disorder.
As we approach 3/4 mark of the novel we see Pea doesn’t really need to be at St. Joe’s because she understands what she did and why she did it (because she stopped taking her medication) and being there only makes her more anxious than we have ever seen her before. We also see the doctors at the hospital don’t even attempt to help Pea with her eating disorder they treat her like everyone else when all the patients are clearly unique from a varying range of background and mental issues and therefore should be treated individually and uniquely, so I felt this really highlighted the issues when treating mental illness. While Ben isn’t allowed to visit her in the hospital she does ring him and leave a message, her parents also visit often but we can see they don’t believe Pea when she tells them that she doesn’t need to be at the hospital. While she has only been there 2 days she has thrown a fit and learnt that one of the boys in the facility committed suicide.
As we cross into the final section of the novel the romance between Pea and Ben goes to next level and for the first-time Pea can imagine a life where she is normal, where is she free of her monsters and it’s all because of him. I swear I spent most of this novel absolutely sobbing because I felt so happy and sad for Pea all at once. Despite some of the darker themes in this novel there is always a ray of hope, the hope that things will get better with time, effort and affection. By the end of the novel Pea hasn’t been cured but she is heading the right direction with the love and support of her family, her boyfriend and some amazing friends.
Overall, I felt the depiction of mental illnesses and the treatment of mental illnesses was accurate while not being glamourous. We see a lot of doctors treating mental illness try to categorize their patients when the patients need to be treated individually and uniquely, this book also really highlights the failings in the treatment of mental illness in teens and pre-teens. I loved how Pea’s disorder was initially described as a monster but by the end she realizes that the monster isn’t real and that her disorder doesn’t have to control her life. The characters were amazing although they were a little hard to connect to but I felt this was due to the second person narrative. The plot was surprisingly accurate and just the entire book was a quick and easy read although it does deal a massive blow to your emotions. I highly recommend this novel to people looking to read more about mental health in a fictional setting.
I won this book as part of a giveaway from Kester
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