My Demon’s Name is Ed
Danah Khalil, Author
Second Story Press, Fiction, Oct. 4, 2016
Suitable for Ages: 12-16
Themes: Anorexia Nervosa, Eating Disorders, Peer Pressure, Mental Health, Self-Esteem, Courage, Hope
Synopsis: Danah’s eating disorder has a personality — it’s a demon she calls Ed, the voice in her head that undermines her self-esteem and her perception of the world. How can she explain to her family and friends that even when she tries to develop healthier eating and exercising habits, there is a demon wriggling inside her mind, determining her every step?
ED: “There is nothing wrong while I am in control.”
“You see? It is “normal” to lose weight. I told you. Yes, I am always right. You must keep going. Keep going.
While Danah knows that what she is doing is unhealthy, the validation and sense of control that her “demon” gives her begins to win out over everything and everyone else.
Why I like this book:
Danah Khalil has written compelling novel based on her own struggle with an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. She is 14 years old when her dieting begins. It takes guts to share something so profoundly emotional and deeply personal. I applaud Danah for bravely sharing her realistic story. Her suffering is visceral. Her voice is completely authentic. The solitude and misery she plummets into is dark and seductive. She calls the demon who lives in her head, “Ed.” And, with every journal entry, Ed’s voice (written in italics,) is there to coax, command and control her every thought and action.
Danah tells her story entirely through diary entries she started at age 14, at the beginning of the anorexia through her recovery at age 18. Although it is an interesting way to watch the progression of her anorexia, the entries become very focused on meal plans, weighing herself, daily workouts, anger towards her parents, and some lovely poetry. This is the isolation she creates for herself. My only sadness is that I never really get to know Danah, her family and friends, even after she enters a treatment facility. I hoped her therapy would reveal more family interaction.
Danah’s story is a hopeful story for families with a child who has an anorexia, or for anyone who is close to someone with an eating disorder. Although Danah recovers, she acknowledges that it will be with her forever and she will need to stay vigilant. Many years ago I worked with teens and young women with eating disorders and it brought back many memories. My Demon’s Name is Ed is an excellent book that will alert parents, siblings, friends, and teachers to the earliest symptoms of eating disorders and seek help.
Resources: The book includes information on common symptoms and book recommendations. I recommend that readers also check out the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which provides information about the eating disorders, support groups, treatment options and stories of hope.
Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.