Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield

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Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Stark but eloquent and semi-autobiographical graphic novel about anorexia. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Walker
ISBN: 1406331139

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As Tyranny shakes her - I TOLD you not to eat! You are TOO fat! - Anna thinks back. She used to take joy in life. She used to dream of a bright future - a career, boyfriends, children - but it all went wrong when she hit puberty. She wasn't keen on on the curves of her new, more womanly body. When she looked in the mirror, she didn't see an hourglass figure developing; she saw fat and flab. Deaf to the warnings of her parents and her boyfriend, she listened to Tyranny and entered into the desperate, downward cycle of anorexia.

As long as I'm thin and perfect, I'll be invincible!

It wasn't true, of course.

In this stark but eloquent graphic novel, Lesley Fairfield uses Anna to recount her own 30-year battle with this horrific disease and the personal journey comes through in each and every panel. When a painfully thin Anna looks in the mirror, she doesn't see herself looking back; she sees a rounder, more plump girl - and it's awfully sad, because even this, fatter, version of reality isn't actually fat. Tyranny, the pro-ana voice inside Anna, is quite a frightening figure, skeletal but strong, aggressive and dominant. Anna is as afraid of Tyranny as she is afraid of the consequences of bingeing, laxatives and devastating weight loss.

There are several heartbreakingly wistful panels, in which Anna tries and fails to conquer her disease. They're like little glimpses of a normal life, but they seem so far away and unattainable that they're quickly overcome by the illness. Anna gets to rock bottom before she gets better, but at least she does get better; more than can be said for one of her friends, who dies.

But I'm making sound hopeless, and it isn't. Anna does get better and she does manage to banish Tyranny from her life. So there is plenty of hope here. And I think this graphic format is helpful too - the drawings are great in themselves, but they also keep the text to a minimum, which in turn allows Anna to be an everywoman. Readers won't find her threatening either in the midst of anorexic crisis or in recovery. They won't say but she's not me. They won't find her didactic, either. But she is there, and that's important.

Tyranny is clear, direct, simple and moving. And I recommend it.

My thanks to the good people at Walker for sending the book.

Other valuable books about anorexia include Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, which gets right inside the mind of a sufferer, A Perfect Ten by Chris Higgins, which has a wonderful lightness of touch as it picks its way through difficult issues, and Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig, which is moving and intensely personal.

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Buy Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield at Amazon.com.


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