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A new novel call Purge has been published by a Connecticut-based writer name Sarah Durer Littman. The novel, told in the first person in the format of a journal, is the story of Janie Ryan. Janie is a 16-year-old bulimic and the novel relates her experiences while receiving treatment at a fictional residential treatment facility called Golden Slopes. Janie’s journal reveals the traumatic events that led to her development of an eating disorder, and how she developed bulimia as a sort of coping mechanism.
Littman comments about her novel’s protagonist: “She is very much in denial of the disease and sort of has the attitude that this isn’t a disease, it’s a diet strategy. It’s really about her growing realization and recognition of the fact that yes, she does have a condition that needs treatment and also her awareness of why she’s doing what she’s doing.”
The novel is the product of Littman’s real-life struggles with anorexia (as a teen) and bulimia (as an adult). The idea for the novel came to Littman while she was attending a writer’s retreat in Vermont. In preparation for the novel, Ms. Littman asked her mother to send her some of her childhood pictures. She comments on looking at a picture of herself at age 15: “I looked at it, and I was like ‘Wow, I actually had a pretty good figure,’ but what made me really sad about the picture is that I remember how I felt at the time, which was fat and ugly.”
Ms. Littman speaks about her motivation for the novel: “I want people to feel hopeful. I wanted to show them that they can overcome eating disorders, if they go through the proper therapy and build a support system. … Hopefully the book will help to raise awareness and to generate a discussion about body image and eating disorders and the pressures on both young women and men.”