This is my review of Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green. As the name implies, this memoir is primarily about the author’s struggles with eating disorders. Quite a bleak read.
To be honest, I picked up this book because it was right next to a fat, colourful Asterix compendium… that was in French. College libraries for the win! But I digress.
Despite my initial skepticism (largely because it wasn’t Asterix), I ended up finishing this fat 500+ page tome in one sitting. It draws you in with its simple illustrations and narrative.
Katie was always a picky eater. She talks about how she hid away unwanted food as a child, and speculates whether that was an early symptom of the illnesses that plagued her for over a decade. During her teen years, she became sensitive to comments on her appearance, triggering her spiral into anorexia. After a brief recovery, she falls ill again and takes the help of an alternative healer to get rid of her ‘negative energy’. Seemingly cured, she heads off to college for a degree in Biology.
Her demons creep up on her again, this time in the form of binge eating. She seeks help again- from a real therapist this time- and slowly but steadily works her way back to health. Armed with some insight into her thought patterns and feelings towards food, she faces her illness head on. Plus she switches careers and becomes an illustrator. This memoir is, interestingly, her first work.
I liked this book for its minimalist illustrations and simple ways of representing complex emotions. However, I think that the whole premise falls flat unless the reader can relate to eating disorders, or Katie’s way of thinking in general. It is so personal and introspective that a bystander must either share in the emotions or move along. Either way, Katie Green has great talent and I will definitely be looking her up in the future.