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CONTENT WARNING: This post mentions eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide.
This is a spoiler-free review.
For my second book review on my blog, I wanted to read Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot. I read so many mixed reviews about, but I wanted to give it a shot. I wanted to form my own opinion based on the content and the portrayal of mental illness.
Sad Perfect is a moving story about Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. It’s informative, yet relatable. It’s heartbreaking, yet hopeful.
I do want to make a trigger warning before continuing with my review. I imagine this book can be incredibly triggering for those struggling with an eating disorder, especially ARFID. There were very descriptive passages of self-harm that triggered me greatly. I had to ground myself before reading on.
So to start my review, I say read this book at your own discretion. If you want to gain insight on less known mental illnesses, please read on.
Eating has always been difficult for 16-year-old Pea. Some would say that she’s a just very picky eater. But she knew it was something so much worse. She never has a desire to eat, and when she does eat, she can only eat “safe” foods.
Pea has a monster living inside her. The monster tells her what she can and cannot eat. It fills her with intrusive thoughts and makes her very anxious. It makes her depressed, and it makes her do terrible things she never thought she’d do. The monster controls every aspect of her life.
During the summer, Pea meets Ben. Ben makes her feel alive and fills her with hope for the first time in her life. She tries to keep the monster hidden, but the monster wants to come out and destroy the part of her that means the most.
PROS AND CONS
1. Love didn’t heal Pea’s disorder: I was so happy that love wasn’t a cure for her mental illnesses. Ben encourages her to get better throughout the story, but he doesn’t cure her. I found this incredibly relatable to mine and my boyfriend’s relationship.
2. The POV: It took me a couple of chapters to get used to the story being told in second person. But then I realized how much more effective stories about mental illness could be if more stories were told from this point of view. However, I can also see why so many people thought the story was incredibly triggering. Your thoughts aren’t your own when you’re reading second person.
3. Talked about therapy and medication: Yay for a YA book talking so positively about therapy and medication! I think this will encourage other readers who are struggling to seek help.
4. Character development: I love reading stories with effective character development throughout the story. I prefer to see the bumpy roads. I like seeing all the highs and lows. That only makes the story more relatable and enjoyable.
1. Very triggering: The story was very triggering to a lot of people. There were also no trigger warnings for self-harm, depression, and suicide, which could be incredibly harmful and irresponsible. I hope an updated copy will include all of these trigger warnings.
2. Pea’s thought processes sometimes: Pea always felt like she had it worse, especially when it came to other eating disorders. That can be incredibly damaging to the reader. She also had the mentality that she was better than other girls. But at the same time, I attribute this to Pea still being a teenager. She’s not yet mature. I think it’s only natural for people that age to think along those lines.
3. Weak dialogue: Some of the dialogue felt weak and cliche. But maybe that’s to be expected because a lot of the dialogue takes place between 16-year-olds.
If you want to gain insight into ARFID, I highly recommend Sad Perfect. People rated it so low because it was a triggering book for them, and while I feel sad that they were triggered so badly, this means that other people can get a genuine insight to how this eating disorder and other mental illnesses can manifest.
Even though I don’t have any first-hand experience with an eating disorder, I still related to the story a lot. Pea and Ben’s relationship reminds me of how my boyfriend encouraged me to recover from my mental illnesses.
Honestly, I’m really glad I decided to read the book. It’s a really eye-opening story, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Sad Perfect helped heal a part of my soul.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, please read at your own discretion.
Final score: 4.5 out of 5.
- Book Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
- 6 Young Adult Fiction Books to Read When You Have Depression
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