Title: Nothing Tastes As Good
Author: Claire Hennessey
Genre: YA, contemporary
Published: 2016 (UK) [when?]
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Acquired: Bought at my local Waterstones.
Rating: ★★★★☆ [3.5]
Book Blurb:: Don’t call her a guardian angel. Annabel is dead- but she hasn’t commpletely gone away. Annabel immediately understands why her first assignment as a ghostly helper is to her old classmate: Julia is fat. And being fat makes you unhappy. Simple, right?
As Annabel shadows Julia’s life in the pressured final year of school, Julia gradually lets Annabel’s voice in, guiding her thoughts towards her body, food and control.
But nothing is as simple as it first seems. Spending time in Julia’s head seems to be having its own effect on Annabel…
And she knows that once the voices take hold, it’s hard to ignore them.
I was really looking forward to this book, and this cover is so nice!! ❤ I love the colour, and the tape measure on the fork idea is so cool, really fitting.
As someone who is constantly trying to lose weight (but lacks the willpower) I really enjoy reading stories revolving around weight issues. I find them super interesting and often I can relate to them really well.
This book caught my eye over the summer as it looks at both sides of the spectrum, with one main character having anorexia and the other being overweight and struggling with their body image.
After dying due to complications with anorexia, Annabel is given the task of watching over her old classmate Julia (kind of like a guardian angel). However Julia is fat, which disgusts Annabel.
Annabel believes it is her mission to educate Julia about her negative body image, and help her lose the pounds in the same way that she did.
During the story Julia gradually lets Annabel’s thoughts affect her way of life. However this process works both ways, and Annabel’s eyes are also opened with regards to weight, life and family.
So I read this book really quickly. Each chapter was super short. This did take some getting used to as I didn’t feel like the chapters were developed enough, however once I got into the story I just couldn’t find a good place to stop reading!
In the book Julia and Annabel are the two main characters. I did relate a lot with Julia at the beginning, as I struggle with my weight and self-loathing too. I would have preferred it if we could have got a bit more of Julia’s emotions, as we tend to just get general vibes rather than explicit thoughts. This made it difficult to fully understand how she was feeling about certain events, especially towards the end and with her eating habits.
Also can I just say, the relationship between Gavin, Julia and Maria is so cute! ❤
Nothing Tastes As Good is narrated in Annabel’s voice, but we get to see a lot of the story thoughts and events due to the cues she picks up.
Honestly I didn’t love Annabel’s personality, but I think that’s because she clashed with my own. Annabel just seemed too blunt and angry for me to relate to her, and she did get on my nerves with some of her remarks. However it is hard to tell how much of the personality was Annabel and how much of it was related to her illness, as towards the end we got to see a more caring side to her. I did feel it was a bit rushed towards the end, but there is definitely a sense of her own growth as a person- despite being dead- which was really nice to see. I just wish we could see a lot more of her own reflections, as her opinions about being ‘ill’ or being ‘fat’ just seem to pop out of nowhere with very little progression.
The final chance at the end of the book was quite emotional though, it made my heart squeeze a little for Annabel!
I also wanted to mention that I did have a slight issue with the narrating style at the beginning, as the fact that Annabel can just ‘know’ how other people are feeling and essentially read their thoughts was really weird and took a LOT of getting used to. I really didn’t like this as a narrative feature, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Annabel’s personality is quite blunt. It made Annabel seem so detached from the story, so I struggled to empathise with her -and Julia’s- issues with food. I was expecting it to be a lot more raw and emotional and I was slightly disappointed.
That said it was a still a really enjoyable read. I was surprised at the issues Julia had faced in the past and I didn’t expect it to have such an impact. I was generally impressed with the realness of the story, as it wasn’t super dramatic as it is so often portrayed. Mental illnesses and eating disorders are not as clear-cut and easily compartmentalised and society believes it is, and I liked how this was included in the book. There is such a thin line and a gray area revolving around these issues and I think Hennessey tried to highlight this is a really good way.
I did have a few issues with the emotions and the format of the book, but Nothing Tastes As Good was still a really good read. I am generally a bit biased when books talk about weight-related issues, but I am glad I gave this book a go!
Have you read this book yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! ♥