When her mother sweeps her off to live in the city, Carmen finds that her old world is disappearing. As her life spirals out of control Carmen begins to take charge of the only thing she can -- what she eats. If she were thin, very thin, could it all be different?
Review: I don't normally read a lot of contemporary fiction, and even less about eating disorders. Mainly because I find it slightly depressing. But you may or may have not noticed that I'm currently on a contemporary fiction kick, and so I bought it at a library sale a couple of weeks ago.
I am a very lucky person. I've never had anorexia or bulimia, and nor has anybody I know. However, this means that I don't know if Massive describes having an eating disorder accurately or not. One thing: am I the only one that's noticed that while the title of the book is written on the weighing scales on the front, the needle is actually pointing to the very smallest number of the scale, as if nobody was stood on it at all? As if you were overweight, even if you weigh nothing at all. Perhaps I look at the covers of books too deeply.
Massive is the sort of book that makes you want to go into the kitchen and eat something just because you you don't want to suddenly and mysteriously want to be as thin as possible. It also makes you realise how sinister some mother-daughter relationships can be; both should definitely read this.
For such a short book, it's quite slow-going, and the bulimia/anorexia part of the book wasn't as huge an aspect of the story as I had thought. It's about mothers, daughters, friends (and how evil they can be), growing up and many things in between, and although bulimia is a main part of the story, all these minor subplots and elements make up the rest of Massive and what ultimately drives Carmen towards eating disorders. Carmen doesn't really want to be thin, doesn't really start throwing up her food until about half of even two-thirds of the way into the book. I guess that's probably quite realistic- you can sort of see the change in her attitude towards food from the beginning of the book to the middle to the end, unfolding before your eyes.
Carmen was a nice enough character; nothing remarkably special, and, quote her mother in one scene, "God, do you ever say anything?" I loathed her mother, Maria and didn't feel sorry for her in the least- but I think you were meant to dislike her. It's kind of hard to describe every person in the large cast of characters in such a small book, which means that some people are kind of distant and we never really understand them. Carmen's grandparents, for example. All we know about them is that her grandmother is overweight and her grand-dad won't cut down the hedge in the front garden. It was interesting how perhaps Carmen's grandmother was always eating and then her daughters were forever dieting, and then it sort of passed on to Carmen, like a downward spiral or a circle you can't get out of.
One thing: At the end of the book, Carmen and her friend Paisley burn some Barbie dolls. Although it was poignant and one of my favourite scene, burning plastic is bad. I know this because when I was younger I put a plastic mixing bowl in the microwave while trying to melt some chocolate to make some fridge cake.
Summary: disturbing but in some parts funny in a twisted sort of way, and makes you think about food and families and how once something gets started it's hard to stop. Rating: 3.