cover image Louder than Hunger

Louder than Hunger

John Schu. Candlewick, $18.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-5362-2909-7

In 1996, white-cued 13-year-old Jake Stacey would rather roller skate and listen to Broadway musicals or volunteer at the local nursing home than go to school and face relentless bullying. An internal voice, stylized in all-caps, declares that Jake doesn’t “deserve/ love/ and/ warmth/ and/ kindness/ and/ goodness,” and persuades him to forgo eating. Jake, who feels as if ignoring his hunger gives him control when nothing else does, is diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and admitted to Whispering Pines, an inpatient treatment facility for eating disorders. Jake initially rebels against the staff, refuses to speak during therapy, and dreams of leaving to attend a Broadway show with his grandmother. As he settles into his treatment, he experiences setbacks, explores his relationship with food, and opens up to the people around him. This heart-wrenching verse novel—inspired by the author’s experiences, as discussed in an end note by Schu (This Is a Story)—is an unflinching depiction of resistance and disordered eating recovery. Clever use of negative space and onomatopoeic phrases emphasize Jake’s feelings of anger, grief, shame, and vulnerability, while musical theater lyrics and letters from Jake’s grandmother gently buoy this raw read. Resources conclude. Ages 10–14. Agent: Molly O’Neill, Root Literary. (Mar.)