16-year-old Janie enters the euphemistically named Golden Slopes for treatment of her bulimia. There is a sharp divide at the facility between the "barfers" and the "starvers." Boys are also included in those two clubs. Janie responds to every stressor in her life with a need to vomit. On the other hand, the "starvers" are obsessed with continuously avoiding food like it is the plague.
This is some way to spend her summer vacation.
Janie struggles with her problem child status, her "perfect" stepsister Jenny, and her relationship with her best friend Kelsey back home. Despite the family discord that she has experienced, Janie misses her little brother and dog. Yet the rituals take center stage.
Being watched constantly, doing yoga, being forced to eat every last vegetable on her plate at meal times, and talking with the other patients in group fill her days. Dr. Pardy is incessantly curious about how everyone is feeling about the relationships and events in their lives. Privacy is at a minimum at Golden Slopes, and most of the patients eagerly anticipate the day when they can break free.
At least nurse Joe seems sympathetic to her plight. He introduces her to kickboxing at the gym, a healthy way to get out her aggression and anger. There is a sense of community among the patients; they support and worry about each other. They are friends.
Purge by Sarah Darer Littman, 2009
I found it fascinating to get a sense of the subculture of psych wards, and it was great to see a realistic portrayal of quality group psychotherapy.