Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy

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Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A look at life beyond the grave, when Annabel becomes Julia's spirit guide it turns out they might both be able to help each other.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: July 2016
Publisher: Hot Key Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471405747

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As warnings against disordered eating go, this one is quite interesting. Annabel, you see, is already dead when we meet her. She got too thin and one day that was it, her body ceased to function. Her mind, however, is still sharp. She's now stuck in an in between world, neither here nor there, and before she moves on she really, really, wants to have the chance to say a few things to her family. There are hoops to jump through, though, because the afterlife has rules, don't you know? In order to earn the right to send a message through to her family, she has to help out a troubled soul. It's a girl she vaguely knows, as it turns out. One of her former 6th form classmates. Julia is smart, reasonably popular, into the school newspaper and things like that. And, oh yeah, she's capital F Fat. This has to be a joke.

Assigned as a sort of spirit guide, Annabel's task is to help Julia. She immediately thinks this means help her lose weight - because Nothing Tastes as Good as skinny feels, right? But Julia is slightly more complicated, and although she is disgustingly fat to Annabel's eyes, there may be other factors affecting her happiness.

Part Annabel's story and part Julia's, this is an utterly unique piece of YA fiction that speaks to you whatever your waist size. It's high school all over – boyfriends, best friends, career and exam angst and, sure, obsession over looks. To Annabel the latter is the most important but the longer she spends with Julia, the more it becomes clear that both of them may change their views based on the other's involvement in their life. As she so desperately wants to see and speak to her little sister again, Annabel is forced to play by the rules set by her mysterious boss, and in doing so starts to see that there's more to people than their outward appearance, with a lot of interesting stuff going on beneath the surface.

One of the first things that struck me was that this book was Irish, and that I've not read much if any young adult fiction from over there. The notes are subtle – a few references to places, the odd classic Will I…? structure that reminds me of the way some of my Irish friends at uni would talk. Beyond this observation, I was taken by how oddly amusing this book was, even with the narrator being a girl who died in sad circumstances. It's quite an uplifting read and it's not even really about eating disorders, or at least anorexia, in the end. Instead it's about who you are and who you want to be, and navigating that time in your life when you're pretty sure you're an adult, and pretty much everything is legal, but you're technically still at school and therefore have to obey arbitrary rules that often make little sense.

It's a good read, and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review.

For a similar, weighty topic for teens we would recommend All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven whereas for more on eating disorders, a good bet would be Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle and Clare B Dunkle or Paper Weight by Meg Haston.

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Buy Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy at


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