A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.
Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.
But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.
I didn’t anticipate going in how difficult this would be to read. My own struggles with mental health and having friends who struggle with anorexia much of this book cut close to the bone for me and I found myself needing to stop and take breaks at regular intervals feeling myself struggling often.
Lexi is a seemingly happy and healthy fifteen year old girl, that is until her parents discover her secret life. She has been skipping meals and purging with a strongly held belief that she will grow fat if she doesn’t. As her anorexia takes more of a grip she struggles with the physical ramifications versus the mental ones. Amanda Prowse hasn’t held the punches here and has perfectly described the struggles, the deceits, and the life of someone with anorexia. Whilst some of what Lexi went through I didn’t recognise as it was different from what my friends have been through, as with all mental illness there is no size fits all and I felt an affinity with this young girl who was battling her mind and her body.
Her parents were very well written, as people who loved their daughter dearly, but despite this did almost everything wrong. Lockie her Father is a bull in a china shop, he wants to punish and and take the hard line. He takes a long time to accept that anorexia is a mental illness, although once he does he is the one that realises what kind of treatment she needs and should have and ends up battling for her to get it.
Freya was awful, just awful, as someone who grew up with a mental illness she would have been my worst nightmare as a mother. She was full of love but she had no backbone. She wasn’t willing to fight for her daughter to get the treatment she needed, to be treated by the right people and ultimately is probably the reason that Lexi ends up so sick. I spent so much of the book shaking my head and tutting at the decisions she was making, my mind had a running commentary of “why aren’t you doing?”. It really has been a long time since I have disliked a character as much as I have disliked Freya. She wasn’t a bad person she was just a complete marshmallow when it came to handling this awful illness.
This is a truly harrowing read, but this is what this illness is like, it tears through lives and those living with it become consumed. Mental illness is real and harsh and anorexia has devastating physical affects. Amanda Prowse has written a book which could probably have been a biography for thousands of families here. I would recommend thinking carefully before reading if you have any mental health issues especially related to food or self harm as this is tremendously hard to read.
A huge thanks to Amanda Prowse for the eARC of this book in return for my honest review.
Book & Buy Links
Title: The Food of Love
Author: Amanda Prowse
Genre: Fiction | Contemporary Fiction | Mental Health
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 1 December 2016
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback | Audio
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US