The Art of Starving
More Happy Than Not meets Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future in this gritty, contemporary YA debut about a bullied gay teen boy with an eating disorder who believes he’s developed super powers via starvation.Matt hasn’t eaten in days.His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space. So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.A darkly funny, moving story of body image, addiction, friendship, and love, Sam J. Miller’s debut novel will resonate with any reader who’s ever craved the power that comes with self-acceptance.

The Art of Starving Details

TitleThe Art of Starving
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 11th, 2017
PublisherHarperTeen
ISBN0062456717
ISBN-139780062456717
Number of pages384 pages
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Glbt, Health, Mental Health

The Art of Starving Review

  • Emma Giordano
    February 13, 2017
    (Update 6/30) I am planning on reading this book through a critical lens, hoping to find some good representation but also keeping in mind what is important to praise as well as condone in ED literature.I've been thinking about this book for weeks and I was originally really excited for this read. "Male MC with an Eating Disorder" and it's LGBT+? Sign me up!But truthfully, I am insanely wearing of a plot where "starvation gives you powers."I'm trying not to judge too harshly because I obviously (Update 6/30) I am planning on reading this book through a critical lens, hoping to find some good representation but also keeping in mind what is important to praise as well as condone in ED literature.I've been thinking about this book for weeks and I was originally really excited for this read. "Male MC with an Eating Disorder" and it's LGBT+? Sign me up!But truthfully, I am insanely wearing of a plot where "starvation gives you powers."I'm trying not to judge too harshly because I obviously have not read the book & have no idea what the outcome of it will be. I'm POSITIVE the author meant no harm, as I've been attempting to do more research on this novel, it's clear the author fights for a ton of important causes, but that's not to say hurt can't be caused unintentionally. As of now, I think the synopsis itself is extremely harmful, bordering on glorification of EDs and I can only pray it's a really bad summation of what the book is actually about. I'm really really hopeful this book isn't as destructive as it seems, because I would truly love to read more stories about 1. Boys with eating disorders 2. LGBT+ individuals with eating disorders. I think it has the potential to be a good story underneath a really problematic exterior. I know as well as anyone that books about mental health should be raw and authentic, which sometimes means the inclusion of triggering content, but this one frequently has me nauseous at the thought of it. I am just really unsettled at the thought of promoting the idea that there is some sort of "special advantage" to starving yourself when my anorexia physically stopped my body from working properly and nearly killed me. I'm still considering reading it in the future, especially since none of the current reviews seem to be from individuals with eating disorders themselves, and I think in this case, there deserves to be at least a few. I'd really like to give it the benefit of the doubt, despite my current feelings and fears. As of now, I'm leaving it at "I will consider reading it in the future purely for analytical purposes to offer insight, but I'm also teetering on not taking the change of tarnishing my recovery just to see if it proves me wrong."
    more
  • Kai
    March 31, 2017
    "Being better isn't a battle that you fight and win. Feeling okay is a war, one that lasts your whole life and the only way to win is to keep on fighting."Note: Seeing the lack of books featuring a male main character, or even a side character, who has an eating disorder, I’m so glad to finally read one that tackles this topic.I’m having a hard time rating this. When I first heard of this book I was more than excited to read it. The summary sounded promising. A gay high school student who is bul "Being better isn't a battle that you fight and win. Feeling okay is a war, one that lasts your whole life and the only way to win is to keep on fighting."Note: Seeing the lack of books featuring a male main character, or even a side character, who has an eating disorder, I’m so glad to finally read one that tackles this topic.I’m having a hard time rating this. When I first heard of this book I was more than excited to read it. The summary sounded promising. A gay high school student who is bullied in school, suffers from an eating disorder and develops super powers? Count me in. But somehow this turned out to be different from what I expected.Let’s start with the main character. Matt feels lost. He is angry. He loves his mom and his sister. He hates school and everybody in it. To be blunt, I didn’t like Matt very much. He is hurting, he misses his sister and a father he’s never know. But he is, all in all, not a very nice person. His thoughts are bitter and dark and most of all completely unjustified. Sometimes that was too much for my taste.The fantasy aspect – or was there a fantasy aspect? – didn’t help the story. If you don’t want to get spoiled, better skip this next paragraph.The fantasy aspect was badly executed. We don’t really know if Matt really has powers. But if he has them, he has them all: highly developed senses. He can hear, smell and feel things that are impossible to sense. He can read minds, he can move objects, create earthquakes, manipulate animals. At first it seems to be a side effect of the self-starving, which really troubled me, since many readers could take this as an encouragement. Later we learn that firstly, the powers are real and so is the fantasy aspect in this book, and secondly, he has always had those powers and they don’t have anything to do with his eating disorder. And apparently his sisters has them, too. This didn’t work for me. Either make these powers and actual big part of the story, make them a hallucination as a side effect of the starvation or scratch them completely. In the end Matt’s super powers don’t have an origin, a purpose or an explanation.Many subplots didn’t make much sense to me. There was Maya, Matt’s sister, who disappeared for some weird(!) reason, but still calls in sometimes, but can’t come home and also can’t say why. Then there is Tariq, who I liked. He wasn’t perfect, but he had depth. I wished for a happy ending. (view spoiler)[In the end Matt and Tariq agreed that they wouldn’t work out and that their relationship was over, which didn’t make sense and really disappointed me. (hide spoiler)]There are many more details that bothered me. For once I would have wished to see more of the healing process Matt goes through. It feels crucial that the reader, who is confronted with all these misleading rules about the Art of Starving, gets a good, satisfactory explanation that makes clear that you should not attempt to starve yourself and/or follow any of the rules at the beginning of every chapter. The attempt was there, but the thought didn’t get through to me.The author had amazing ideas and this story has lots of potential, but I feel like Sam J. Miller got all bundled up in his ideas and everything in this book went all over the place. I had many moments, especially in the beginning, where I was in awe with the writing and felt deeply connected to the main character. I wish there would have been more of this, though.Find more of my books on Instagram
    more
  • Sarah
    May 9, 2017
    (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “Hunger makes you better. Smarter. Sharper.I have learned this through practical experimentation.” This was a YA contemporary/magical realism story about a boy who thought his eating disorder gave him super-powers.Matt was quite a quirky character, and I liked how he was openly gay and unashamed about being who he was. I did feel sorry for him though that he had so much stuff going on in his life to deal (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “Hunger makes you better. Smarter. Sharper.I have learned this through practical experimentation.” This was a YA contemporary/magical realism story about a boy who thought his eating disorder gave him super-powers.Matt was quite a quirky character, and I liked how he was openly gay and unashamed about being who he was. I did feel sorry for him though that he had so much stuff going on in his life to deal with though. “My best guess is that a spell has been cast on me, so that everyone else sees me as a scrawny gangly bag full of bones, and I alone see the truth, which is, as I mentioned, that I am an enormous fat greasy disgusting creature.” The storyline in this was about Matt’s eating disorder, his sister running away from home, and even a little romance. We also got a bit of a strange storyline about Matt thinking that the hungrier he was, the more his special powers worked, and he was able to smell people and know their secrets. This was a little strange, but it did seem like these weird things were really happening to him rather than him being delusional. I was also surprised by the romance in this story as I wasn’t expecting that at all, but I was glad that someone saw Matt and accepted him for who he was. “I saw, heard, smelled things others could not.Somehow, I had become Peter f*cking Parker.” The ending to this was okay, but this did feel like rather an odd story overall.6.25 out of 10
    more
  • Destiny ➳ Howling Libraries
    June 29, 2017
    I just received my first ever finished copy of a book for review purposes and that might sound really minuscule to non-bloggers but after the day I've had, I am just internally screaming with delight 😍
  • Elise (The Bookish Actress)
    February 23, 2017
    3 stars, mainly because I have absolutely no idea how I felt about this. I didn't enjoy it at all but... it was still a good book? How do I even explain this. The Art of Starving is an incredibly raw book about eating disorders. It incorporates magical realism seamlessly into the plot. The writing style flows well. Emotion drips from the pages. Each character is developed and intriguing. And yet... there's something missing here. Part of this must be the haphazard plot, with the protagonist chan 3 stars, mainly because I have absolutely no idea how I felt about this. I didn't enjoy it at all but... it was still a good book? How do I even explain this. The Art of Starving is an incredibly raw book about eating disorders. It incorporates magical realism seamlessly into the plot. The writing style flows well. Emotion drips from the pages. Each character is developed and intriguing. And yet... there's something missing here. Part of this must be the haphazard plot, with the protagonist changing goals and tactics on the fly. Part of this might just be the sheer oddness of the book. Whatever the reason, I felt disconnected from this story. SOME MORE SPECIFIC NOTESThe romantic storyline is somewhat cute. The two of them have good dialogue and relationship buildup. I had one major, major issue– at one point, one of the boys tried to pressure the other into sex. It's kind of addressed, but it's glossed over more than I was comfortable with. Also, a personal complaint: the body horror here went too far. I don't want to read about bleeding nails and pigs being skinned from the inside out. Don't pretend you do, either. A PERSONAL NOTE FOR DISCUSSIONI really like the trend of stories where protagonists get their happy endings but break up with the love interest. However, I've noticed that this almost exclusively happens in lgbt novels. This is actually the second book like this that I read this week (the other one being Little Wrecks). I can list far too many examples: Gallery of Unfinished Girls, If You Could Be Mine, Huntress, Tricks, and even Openly Straight. It fits into the “gay-people-don't-get-happy-endings“ trope far more than I want it to. I just feel like there's so little happy lgbt romance that sad lgbt romance isn't what the genre needs right now. This is by no means a complaint about either The Art of Starving, Little Wrecks, or any of the other books on this list; they are all books I enjoyed. Gallery of Unfinished Girls especially is one of the best books I read this year (add it to your tbr!!). It just feels like a trope at this point. Feel free to comment opinions, I'd love to discuss with anyone as long as they're polite!div17: mc w underepresented body
    more
  • Patrick Ropp
    May 10, 2017
    Sam's debut novel is absolutely haunting. Matt, an angry, sarcastic gay teen with an antagonistic relationship with his body, tries desperately to find out why his sister ran away from home. Filled with churning anxiety, hunger pains, angry love, and a newfound view of the space time continuum, this novel is a delight.
    more
  • Anne
    January 12, 2017
    This was a very interesting read. On the surface it follows Matt, a sixteen-year-old boy with an eating disorder, family issues, and bullying because of his sexuality (as well as a couple of other things). First of all, AMAZING title: "The Art of Starving." It drew me in immediately, combining two words that are seemingly opposites. It perfectly encompasses the mood of the novel, both romantic and bitter, party and brutality. Moving on from that, I found the main character Matt an especially int This was a very interesting read. On the surface it follows Matt, a sixteen-year-old boy with an eating disorder, family issues, and bullying because of his sexuality (as well as a couple of other things). First of all, AMAZING title: "The Art of Starving." It drew me in immediately, combining two words that are seemingly opposites. It perfectly encompasses the mood of the novel, both romantic and bitter, party and brutality. Moving on from that, I found the main character Matt an especially intriguing, because of his conflicting character traits. Initially he reminded me a bit of Holden Caulfield in his *almost* hypocritical statements. That comparison was quickly discouraged as the novel went on though, and Matt became his own literary being that can stand alone. SPOILERS AHEADI am always in favor of positive representation in novels, so I was very happy when Matt and Tariq had a pretty healthy relationship (when they were actually together, that is). I also really valued Miller's choice to have Tariq break up with Matt because he couldn't see Matt destroy himself. Of course there was the initial pain and anger around it, but I really really appreciated how at the end they were able to have a mutually respectful relationship after, even just as friends. The main part of the book I wanted to discuss was the magic in this novel. Initially I thought that it was a change in perception from Matt starving himself, but then it turned into actual magical abilities at a certain point, and that was when I perked up, confused and interested. This novel is set in a contemporary environment, so why the magic? ESPECIALLY at the end, when Matt was raising a pig army against the people in his town. At first I raised my eyebrows at it all, because on the surface it seemed like a cheap escalation of his abilities just for an epic climax. It didn't seem to fit at all. But I paused my reading and reflected on how magic had been used throughout the novel up until this point (around page 316), and I finally understood that there's symbolism there. For Matt, his powers always appeared to have come when he starved himself. The more hungry he was, the sharper his world was. The more he could feel, touch, and experience. When he goes to the slaughterhouse and commands all these pigs with his powers, he is also at his most starved. Starved of relationships (romantic, familial, and friend), food, and sense of self. But then after all that, when he goes into recovery, he still has some power. At the beginning of the novel, it took a huge amount of commitment and work for Matt to KEEP himself from eating. At the end, it took that amount of work to GET himself to eat. His power comes from his devotion to himself, an element to the story I did not see coming but was so excited when I figured that out. It gave so much more dimension to the novel, knowing that things did not have explicit meanings. As a surface story I would give it 3 stars. Maybe 3.5. Like many other books, namely school-assigned or classics, often the story isn't the most propelling. But the characters and the hidden depths of symbolism make the story an amazing puzzle to fit together.
    more
  • Trista
    May 9, 2017
    This was a book I was a little hesitant going into since it involved a boy thinking that starving himself was giving him superpowers. I'm very glad I gave it a chance because the book was full of quirky characters, an interesting family dynamic, and a plot that would be really interesting to see debated on if it was more magical realism where Matt did have superpowers or if his mind was trying to validate his choice of not eating by making him think he had superpowers.Matt was a likeable charact This was a book I was a little hesitant going into since it involved a boy thinking that starving himself was giving him superpowers. I'm very glad I gave it a chance because the book was full of quirky characters, an interesting family dynamic, and a plot that would be really interesting to see debated on if it was more magical realism where Matt did have superpowers or if his mind was trying to validate his choice of not eating by making him think he had superpowers.Matt was a likeable character who could be frustrating in that he was hypocritical at times and sometimes just wasn't that nice. He was also hurting because his older sister had run off and he had no idea where she was or what had driven her to take off. Part of the plot focused on Matt trying to discover her reasons, blaming a few fellow high schoolers for his sister's disappearance. I liked how determined Matt was to find out what had happened to his sister and how much he cared about his mom, who worked so hard in an effort to keep their roof over their head and food on their table. I also liked the developing relationship between Matt and Tariq as Matt got closer, trying to figure out if Tariq was responsible for his sister's disappearance.I really appreciated that there wasn't any romanticizing of Matt's eating disorder. If the powers were real, I would have liked more background on them. Where did they originate? How did they work? Were there a lot of others out there like Matt? But then that would mean knowing for certain if the powers were real or if they were from Matt trying to justify not eating. I like the idea that it could be argued that either theory is valid based on how the reader saw the events. Matt's powers reminded me a bit of the aliens in We Are All Ants, as I was also questioning if they were real or part of the character's coping mechanism.*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Bekka
    May 19, 2017
    Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for early access to this title.3 1/2 stars -This was fairly good - my biggest problem with it is I didn't like the main character very much. However, I think this book deals with a difficult and often unacknowledged topic, and handles it quite well. I can see this being very helpful to teens facing this issue, and helping them see that there is a way through and beyond this trauma. I did like quite a bit that the message was to continue fighting, and that some Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for early access to this title.3 1/2 stars -This was fairly good - my biggest problem with it is I didn't like the main character very much. However, I think this book deals with a difficult and often unacknowledged topic, and handles it quite well. I can see this being very helpful to teens facing this issue, and helping them see that there is a way through and beyond this trauma. I did like quite a bit that the message was to continue fighting, and that some things are life-long battles. Magical happy endings don't exist in reality, and that's ok. Life can still be good and fulfilling even if its hard and contains constant struggles. I think that's a tremendously empowering message to give to kids to help them through a traumatic situation such as the one our main character faces.
    more
  • Genevieve Taylor
    June 4, 2017
    I wasn’t sure at first, because the premise of this book isn’t the sort of thing I usually read, but I was so glad I gave it a try! As I read, I found that I identified deeply with the main character, and I became deeply invested in the story he was telling, even when I doubted whether the character was being honest with himself. A must-read for LGBT issues, eating disorders, or any teen reader who loves realistic fiction.
    more
  • Charlie
    June 29, 2017
    3.5 stars
  • Carrie DiRisio
    February 22, 2017
    This is a raw, powerful book, that doesn't glorify or romanticize an eating disorder at all. It's narrative is incredibly intense, so it might be a bit of a triggery book for some, but for me, it was both darkly humorous and heartwrenching in alternative measures, perhaps a lot like life itself is.Matt is a flawed, loving, hungry (in so many ways), brave, realistic teen, that has such a fresh narrative voice. His relationship with (spoiler) also feels incredibly real to teen emotions and passion This is a raw, powerful book, that doesn't glorify or romanticize an eating disorder at all. It's narrative is incredibly intense, so it might be a bit of a triggery book for some, but for me, it was both darkly humorous and heartwrenching in alternative measures, perhaps a lot like life itself is.Matt is a flawed, loving, hungry (in so many ways), brave, realistic teen, that has such a fresh narrative voice. His relationship with (spoiler) also feels incredibly real to teen emotions and passion. The magical realism elements woven throughout the book really elevate it to another level. Great book, would recommend.
    more
  • Amanda Clay
    February 14, 2017
    4.5 Really new and amazing.
  • Jenna (Bookiemoji)
    February 5, 2017
    What a strangely bizarre read, full of magical realism and emotional depth. I have to sit on this to fully wrap my head around it. There seems to be much symbolism in all of the book's central themes. Almost too many to count, which may be the book's one true fault. A full review will definitely be written closer to release. I have a feeling this one will have people talking. Not sure if it will be good or bad...3.5 stars.
    more
  • Peppermint
    March 23, 2017
    I'm feeling very wary about this but will consider reading it
  • B.
    December 2, 2016
    Is it 2017 yet?
  • Sara Grochowski
    April 21, 2017
    3.5 stars. I see some chatter and worries about this book romanticizing eating disorders - don't worry, that is definitely not the case. In fact, it was one of the most raw depictions of the horrific bodily harm eating disorders cause.
Write a review