A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.
Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.
But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.
This was a tough book to read due to its subject matter of anorexia nervosa. In short, Amanda does the subject justice by not shying away from the realities that sufferers and indeed families face when confronted with the disease, but, it is not a happily ever after read. That said, I wouldn’t think twice about recommending this book to all parents with teenagers, and indeed younger children, because it is certainly an eye-opener, more so for those who know little about this mental health condition.
I read The Food of Love as a former anorexia sufferer, and as the parent of four children; my eldest daughter is the same age as the character of Lexi. I therefore understood both sides of this story. I emphasise this because a lot of early reviews about this book make a scathing attack on how Lexi’s Mum, Freya, could possibly have let her daughter’s condition get so out of hand. But to me personally, this highlights the strength of Amanda’s characterisations because I went through a mixture of emotions with both Freya and Lexi, despite having been in Lexi’s situation myself.
It was heart-breaking for every family member involved, at the same time as being so frustrating to watch how both parents tried to deal with the situation. Yes; you see the parents make some mistakes in their handling of it, but at the beginning I understood this because as a former sufferer knows you soon become an Oscar winning performer. The baggy clothes, the eating away from the table and the cunning ways of getting rid of the food without making anyone the wiser (yes, Lexi’s methods become very graphical). Therefore you excuse the fact that they perhaps didn’t see it escalating. In fact it does take a while for it to present itself, but at times I did scream at them, particularly Freya for her constant denial. And in all honesty, there was an utter failure on both parents to act when it was needed, once the condition was confirmed medically. In short – they made a huge mistake, but having said that, they never fully realised the enormity of the disease and I firmly believe that that is just par for the course with anorexia.
The Food of Love focuses on the mental anguish of the disease rather than the glorification of wanting to become skinny for the sake of it. Lexi doesn’t have a specific trigger, rather it’s the little things which tend to accumulate and amalgamate over time which encourage her to change her eating habits drastically. Once it has begun, it becomes the one thing that Lexi feels she is the most successful at managing. I say the little things, because over the course of the book it becomes clear to Freya that although there was never any malice or harm intended by her words, she did recall many past moments in which she had referred negatively to her daughter’s weight, albeit absentmindedly. Food for though indeed as to how we as parents approach and discuss such delicate matters of weight and overall appearances in front of our children.
The Food of Love is an utterly powerful book about the destruction of a solid family unit, whose lives will never quite be the same again.
This book was kindly received for review from the wonderful people at NetGalley.