by Ibi Kaslik
ISBN: 0002005077

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A Review of: Skinny
by W.P.Kinsella

Most of the first novels I've read so far have been disappointing in various degrees. Most writers have not been able to sustain voice, story, plot and characterization. There have been few surprises. Until now the WOW factor has been minimal. However, with a big cherry popsicle on the remarkable cover (designed by Greg Tabor) this novel is like a beautiful dew-bedecked rose growing out of a briar patch. At the beginning, Giselle Vasco is 21, and a functioning anorexic, taking a leave from medical school to get her life back together. The epigraph, from Cathy Caruth really sums up the essence of the novel: "History, like trauma, is never simply one's own. History is precisely the way we are implicated in each other's traumas." And traumas there are-misunderstandings, withheld information, dark secrets, perverse behavior seemingly for no reason, effected by Giselle herself, her younger sister Holly, and both her parents. Giselle has a feeling of abandonment, of worthlessness in spite of her academic brilliance, a feeling that at first appears unfounded. But gradually details emerge revealing that what at first appears as paranoia, is based more on fact than fantasy. We learn a great deal about anorexia, though never in such a clinical way as to obscure the story. There is a deep sense of foreboding throughout, and while we hope that Giselle will be able to overcome her illness and function normally, it appears less and less likely as the novel progresses. In spite of the serious subject matter there is sneaky humour throughout, and we come to love Giselle in spite of her self-destructiveness, and understand the impossibly messy lives of her family. An extraordinarily fine debut.

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