14th July 2016, Hot Key Books, 336 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: near rape scene, mean girls, exteemes of anorexia, overating and bulemia,
What happens when you give in to the voices in your head?
Annabel is dead. And she's not happy about it. Despite having strived to be 'lighter than air' back when she was alive, the consequences of that yearning haven't quite sunk in yet.
Julia Jacobs is fat. Which Annabel immediately notices when she's assigned as Julia's ghostly helper (don't even think about calling her a guardian angel). And as her helper, Julia's problem seems pretty obvious to Annabel. Fat = problem = unhappy. Sorted.
The only trouble is that whatever is causing Julia to overeat is hidden deep within her. Annabel will have to get to know Julia to uncover this secret and 'fix' her. Annabel can become the voice of reason, Julia's source of strength.
Except. . . all this time spent in someone's head has got Annabel thinking. Not just about food, but about her family too. And that maybe happiness can mean more than eradicating all the flesh from your bones.
A lot of aspects of eating disorders are explored in Annabel's afterlife. Bit by bit the reason for Annabel having to watch over and help Julie is made clear, and it's the only way Annabel can get a message to her family from beyond the grave. She wanted to quit so many times because she thought Julie should and could easily lose weight. But Annabel discovers herself through helping Julie, alongside the fact that life is never simple and there are a million reasons why people have issues with food. Annabel tries to push her own views on Julie, since Julie can sometimes hear what Annabel says, and she goes too far.
Julie learns the strength of true friendship, and the horrendous thing which forced her to overeat wasn't entirely her own fault. It is a hard hitting read, with a knock on effect of anorexia that I'd not come across before, and I've read a few fiction books exploring this issue. I liked in some ways how Annabel couldn't really see her family until the end, as the frustration urged her on when she despaired of Julie's wavering inner strength. It was good how Julie had such a passion for journalism, it was hard when she worked with others who weren't that bothered. Julie learns the hard way how catty girls can be, which Annabel learns because she can hear the thoughts of people when she is near them, and sometimes their internal thoughts were unexpected.
While the overall feelings of a specific character to Julie was eventually true and sweet, people who play around can't be trusted fully, which brought down the grade for me. Otherwise a superb read which you will need tissues for, especially at the end.
Find out more on Claire's website.