Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it’s the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her.
But lately Sarah can’t even play basketball right. She’s slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn’t feel like it’s her own anymore. She’s worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what’s happening.
When Sarah’s crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She’ll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn’t need to change to feel good about herself.
“This affirming novel offers a normalizing message about discussing body image and mental health.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Gerber] supplies a positive representation of constructive approaches to an often misunderstood condition…Pragmatic and valuable.” —Kirkus Reviews
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Scholastic Summer 2021 Dewey Diva Picks — Shortlist
This is a middle grade novel that all young people should read. It is an accessible account of what it feels like to not be comfortable in your own skin with an emphasis on food disorders and growing up in general.
I thought this novel was very well written and it really touched upon a difficult topic with clarity and details. I love that it was emphasized that there is no “easy fix” to eating disorders and that the family as a whole should be involved in the process.
Sarah and Benny’s friendship was beautiful and to have the perspective of a male character that cares about food issues just as much as the female character is important to this age group.
I gave this book 4 crowns.
ENDS: JUNE 7, 2021
TAKING UP SPACE BY ALYSON GERBER EXCERPT
I don’t say anything to Mom when she walks back into the kitchen, because I don’t want Ryan and Emilia to notice I’m upset. But it doesn’t make sense. This time, I wrote down exactly what I wanted. She didn’t need to guess or think or remember. I used to just ask Mom for generic categories of food, like chips and cereal. I thought that would be easier than asking her to look for specific brands. But she barely ever bought what I wanted then either. And when I told her I needed snacks for after practice, because it was hard to wait for dinner, she started serving dinner earlier, which was great, until there was nothing to eat when I got hungry before bed. I’ve tried everything. But there’s never enough food.
I open the fridge and take out three water bottles. There isn’t much of anything on the translucent shelves, just a few plain, nonfat yogurts, salad dressing, a shriveled lemon, and what’s left of last night’s dinner—salmon and vegetables.
Mom always buys exactly what she thinks we need for breakfast and dinner. If she were cooking tonight, there would be fish or chicken and some kind of vegetable. But we’re ordering pizza for the sleepover, so there’s even less food.
When Dad is here, things are different—less empty. But he’s not here.
I close the fridge before my friends have a chance to see. “What are you girls doing to celebrate your big win?”
“Shooting around,” Ryan says.
Mom smiles and then picks up the milk like she’s about to put the carton away.
“I’ll meet you outside,” I say to my friends, because I want them to leave before Mom opens the fridge.
“Cool,” Emilia says.
“Is it okay if we take these?” Ryan points to the Doritos on the counter.
“Totally,” I say, like it’s no big deal, and that’s definitely not our only bag.
“Thanks,” she says, taking the chips with her.
I wait until I hear the door close before I turn to Mom and say, “I made you a list.”
“The store didn’t have everything, sweetheart.” She opens the fridge and puts the milk and eggs away. “I got what they had.”
“But you could have bought other snacks, instead of no snacks. It’s just not enough food for a sleepover.” My words come out too loud.
“I’m sorry.” Her eyebrows knit together, like she really doesn’t know how to fix the problem.
It feels good to hear she’s sorry. But it doesn’t actually make this better for me. Snacks aren’t going to magically appear.
“I got us two new books at the library.” Mom changes the subject.
“Agatha Christie?” I ask.
She nods. “I found out about another mystery author I think we’re really going to like. She’s British too. Only new and modern. Sharna Jackson. There’s a short waiting.
Copyright © 2021 by Alyson Gerber