Title: The Food of Love
Author: Amanda Prowse
Published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Adult
Length: 350 pages
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.
Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.
But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.
I’ll start this off with a warning. This book deals heavily with anorexia and the effects it has on a body, mind, spirit, and family. It’s not an easy book to read and is truly, utterly heart-breaking. Dealing with such difficult topics is not always handled in the best way, but I feel like this book is respectful and mindful of people who may be suffering from – or know someone suffering from – this illness.
Freya has the perfect life: a loving husband, a good job that allows her to work from home, a nice house, and two perfect teenage girls. But when her youngest daughter’s secret is revealed, it threatens to tear their once solid family unit apart forever. Struggling to protect her little girl while also giving her the help she needs, Freya battles each and every day with the illness that is stealing her daughter away.
I found this story a little slow to start, then Lexi’s illness is reveal and things spiral dramatically. I was shocked, and more often than not a little disgusted, at the details that Lexi had kept hidden from her family. I struggled to think what I would do if I had a child in the same position and Freya’s constant struggle to keep things together make my heart ache.
While harrowing to read, this book is an insight into how easy children can hide things from their parents, how easy it is to let things spiral out of control, how damaging an illness this is. Throughout reading, you’re as helpless as Freya.
The impact that Lexi’s struggle has on her family is incredible. There’s no more laughter; fear every time they sit down for a meal; cracks in the once solid foundation of their family ties. Freya’s relationship with her husband – who she has always been in-synch with – are pushed to the limit as their different approaches clash. Charlotte is forgotten in the background – by both parents and readers – as Lexi’s condition worsens. There is a pressure that weighs itself on you, the reader, as you read because it’s so unclear as to how this story will resolve – a happy ending seems so unlikely.
We jump from present day to the past throughout. Charlotte and Freya are writing letters to Lexi in the present, trying to be cheerful and uplifting. While the past shows us the devastating journey they have taken to that point. Throughout, I couldn’t imagine for certain whether Lexi lived or died and that made it all the more difficult to read.
This is not an easy book to read, not by a long shot, but it is beautifully and sensitively written. It tackles a topic that I’ve not read about before and it educated me. I would not recommend this for everyone, I feel it has the potential to upset certain people with the topic that it tackles, but if you want to learn more about the illness in a way that is heart-breaking yet honest, I’d recommend you give this a try.
About the Author
Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.
*Picture and Biography from Goodreads