Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Never Enough
Denise Jaden
Release date: July 10th 2012
by Simon Pulse

From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?
*A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada for review purposes*

I can't say that I know a whole lot about eating disorders, but this is not the first book I read in the matter so I know enough to realize it's a very misunderstood disease. It's a monster that takes over the body; an ugly, nasty monster that consumes it. Some people think they're simply being selfish, wanting attention, or completely mad to continue eating habits that have a negative affect on their health to the point of no return, or death. But this is a real mental illness. It takes over your senses and your mind when it comes to body image. Denise Jaden's Never Enough show us how eating disorders affect not only the person who's ill, but the whole family as we go into this from the sister's point of view.

Loann's always been in her sister's shadow: Her popular, pretty, talented sister. What she doesn't know is how much her sister is suffering, too. Getting into this novel I could feel compassion for Loann from the moment I met her. Low self esteem is a problem that everyone encounters at one point or other in our lives. Consequently, it'll be easy for a lot of readers to relate to her and understand how she feels. How she never seems to be good enough. Although shortsighted at times, it's refreshing how she doesn't become overly angsty because of these insecurities. In fact, she finds something she's passionate about and puts her energy into it. Meeting a cute boy who seems to understand her sure helps her attitude as well. Loann is our lone narrator throughout. As the novel begins it's primarily about her inner critic; her insecurities and lack of self worth. We get to know her on a personal level, building our connection with her. Soon, however, it changes into a story about the ones she loves: her friends and family. Which fits completely since she's such a caring, selfless person.

The family dynamics in Never Enough are compelling and accurately portrayed for what I consider to be an average family who's dealing with a serious, misconstrued illness. It constantly changes to reflect the discords and emotional turmoils they face. Some problems are rather cliché, like the absent father and overworked mother, but the emotional energy pouring out, from Loann and Claire's relationship in particular, is terribly moving.

Subtle at best, the romance is more like a slow ripening friendship. Maybe a bit strange at first, they develop a meaningful connection where they seem to become each other's support system. Marcus is a loner with a mysterious edge. You can tell he's carrying a lot of weight, himself, making him hesitant to confide in Loann. For being a supporting role, I love how seamlessly his character falls into place with a meaningful part in the story, adding yet another layer.

In a novel full of unvarnished emotions and ugly truths, Never Enough's focus on very real, very serious issues will easily get you sucked in. This is not a fun story, nor is it fluffy; it's solemn and it's rough. I highly recommend it for those who enjoys these types of weighty contemporary reads. 

4 Hot Espressos