Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog Tour: The Disappearing Girl by Heather Topham Wood

Welcome to our stop on the tour for The Disappearing Girl.  This beautifully written story about a girl struggling to deal with perception is a welcome reminder of how significantly words can impact and how important it is to to ask RUOK?

Title: The Disappearing Girl
Author: Heather Topham Wood
Release date: May 7, 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tour organized by: AToMR Tours

Kayla Marlowe is slowly vanishing…

Last year, Kayla’s world imploded. Her beloved father died, leaving her alone with a narcissistic mother who is quick to criticize her daughter’s appearance. During her winter break from college, Kayla’s dangerous obsession with losing weight begins.

Kayla feels like her world changes for the better overnight. Being skinny seems to be the key to the happiness she has desperately been seeking. Her mother and friends shower her with compliments, telling her how fantastic she looks. Kayla is starving, but no one knows it.

Cameron Bennett explodes into Kayla’s life. He’s sexy and kind—he has every quality she has been looking for in a guy. As Cameron grows closer to Kayla and learns of how far she’s willing to go to stay thin, he becomes desperate to save her.

Kayla’s struggles with anorexia and bulimia reach a breaking point and she is forced to confront her body image issues in order to survive. She wonders if Cameron could be the one to help heal her from the pain of her past.

New Adult Contemporary-Ages 17+ due to language and sexual situations.

The Disappearing Girl deals with the sensitive subject of eating disorders.  It follows Kayla Marlowe down a winding path as she searches for love and acceptance, primarily from her mother, following her father’s death.  Her journey takes her through various stages of an all consuming eating disorder where she eats less, eats nothing, purges and binges until she is so lost she is literally disappearing.

This book is very well written and for me, not having had any direct exposure to an eating disorder, was quite alarming.  I’ve always been conscious of the impact of the spoken word, but it becomes even more evident when you see the direct connection between quips like:
“Who knows? Maybe we’ll be the same size one day?” Her tone hinted it would be cause for celebration.  If I could finally be a size two, she’d love me.
and the eating choices made to reach an all too ridiculous goal weight.

Kayla’s father had passed away unexpectedly a year ago.  Kayla and her sister Lila had always had a rather strained relationship with their mother, never feeling that they lived up to her impeccable standards and their father had been the buffer between them, balancing their mother’s critique.  With him gone, and Kayla’s mother dealing with her grief as best she could, Kayla and Lila were left to fend for themselves as she passed judgement on their appearance.

Kayla’s weight loss efforts start small, but when she receives positive reinforcement from everyone around her about how wonderful she looks she persists with her ‘diet’.
My rationalizations, born out of insecurity, had taken over, and they would guide my every decision going forward.
Kayla’s diet very quickly escalates into limiting her calorie intake, purging any food she eats so that the calories won’t be absorbed, binging followed by more purging.  Her weight loss continues and surprisingly nobody confronts her.

In amongst all of this Kayla meets Cameron.  He manages to get under her skin and there are times when she is with him that she can almost forget about everything that drives her unhealthy behavior ... almost.

Their relationship develops beautifully and it is clear that he is smitten with Kayla from their first encounter.  The depth of his feeling evolves the more time they spend together, but sadly, Kayla’s insecurities and the secrets she is hiding lead her to question everything, particularly whether she is worthy of Cameron.

The thing about anorexia is it’s not something you can hide.  Continued weight loss is visible and finally it gets to the point where Cameron confronts Kayla with his concern for her. 
I’ll be the asshole here if I have to, but I’m taking you to a doctor.  This has gone on long enough.
The fall out for everyone is significant and Kayla must confront the very things that have driven her behaviour to ensure she doesn’t disappear. 

I enjoyed The Disappearing Girl.  The story is engaging, the characters are realistic and relatable – Kayla is a smart young woman and yet she succumbs to this terrible illness, to the pressures and expectations of a ‘perfect’ appearance.  I was devastated by the lengths she would go to and even more alarmed at the online network of support (from fellow sufferers) she was able to establish, complete with ‘thinspirational’ quotes like “your stomach isn’t growling, it’s applauding” or “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” - which just broke my heart.

This book gave me insight into an issue that I’ve not had experience with before and reinforced for me just how important it is to use your words kindly and not shy away from confronting someone if you are worried about them.  

4 out of 5 stars

Heather Topham Wood’s obsession with novels began in childhood while growing up in a shore town in New Jersey. Writing since her teens, she recently returned to penning novels after a successful career as a freelance writer. She’s the author of the paranormal romance Second Sight series and the standalone The Disappearing Girl.

Heather graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and holds a bachelor's degree in English. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as USA Today,, Outlook by the Bay and Step in Style magazine. She resides in Trenton, New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Besides writing, Heather is a pop culture fanatic and has an obsession with supernatural novels and TV shows.

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