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Empty Inside: The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager by Anonymous Teenager and
edited by Beatrice Sparks is another volume in the Sparks gallery of diary
formats works on teen social problems. Kim:
Empty Inside deals with the issue of eating disorders.
Empty Inside is set on the UCLA campus.
Seventeen-year old Anonymous aka Kim is in her freshman year. In
order to achieve the dream of her life, she needs to reduce to a weight
necessary to gain entrance on the UCLA gymnast team. Once on the team, however,
she must continue to maintain the reduced weight. With the advice from her
fellow gymnasts, Kim begins a pattern of eating and purging in order to
maintain her low weight. Kim will soon learn that through her radical efforts
at losing weight, she will lose more than just pounds.
Empty Inside is written in the format of a diary covering a year in the
life of Jennie. Sparks does diaries well, very well. It is in fact, the diary
format that brought Sparks fame and fortune with her Go Ask Alice (1971). Since 1971, she has edited a number of other
teen diaries on topics ranging from pregnancy, cults, gambling, HIV/AIDS, and
street gangs. The diaries and true-life accounts are supposedly garnered from
Sparks clinical work with troubled teens. There is, however, some speculation
that Sparks books are not real diaries, but actually composite of her cases or
even possibly completely fictional. It is not for me to debate this issue here,
but as a review, I feel it is my responsibility to mention it. Either way, her
books present very realistic pictures of what teenagers might experience in
rather difficult situations. For Sparks willingness to confront these very
controversial topics in a realistic manner, for this alone, Sparks deserves
Inside is an excellent book. It goes into the changing thought patterns of
an individual with an eating disorder. Through the use of journaling, the book
illustrates the slow but steady change in the thinking of an individual with an
eating disorder. The changes and her growing obsession is slow and subtle. This
is what makes it so believable. [The Question and Answers section at the end
of the book describes characteristics for anorexia and for bulimia.]
Beatrice Sparks is a family and
adolescent therapist. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Behavior. Her
books have won the American Library Association Young Adult Notable Award, the
Christopher Medal, School Library Journal Best Books, and Quick Pick for
Recommended Reading by the American Library Association. Dr. Sparks was a 1996
National Book Award Judge for Young People's Literature. Her first venture into
teen literature was Go Ask Alice
(1971) that became an instant bestseller and was made into a TV movie. She has
since edited many diary format works on topics such as AIDS (It Happened to Nancy, 1994), cults &
the occult (Jays Journal, 1979),
runaways (Almost Lost, 1996), teen
pregnancy (Annie's Baby, 1988), and
sexual abuse by a teacher (Leslies
Journal, 2001). Kim: Empty Inside
is her latest work.
Inside is guaranteed to hold teen readers attention. This book does not
have graphic language, sexual description, or violence and is, in my opinion,
appropriate for young teens and mature pre-teens. I would highly recommend this
© 2002 Su Terry
Su Terry: Education:
B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from
Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral
Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual
Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the
United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at
Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested
in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area
of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian
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