Twelve-year-old Jane has always been in awe of her big sister, Lizzie, who is perfect in so many ways. But there’s nothing Jane can do to help when Lizzie’s obsession with being thin spirals into unending arguments with their parents and ends in Lizzie’s death. Suddenly the rest of Jane’s family is struggling for survival as well, not sure how to forge a future together.
This tender book shows how one family member’s emotional and psychological state impacts everyone else in the family in both large and small ways. Lizzie’s parents are very human as they struggle to understand their daughter’s eating disorder. They make choices that are well meaning and stem from their love of and fear for Lizzie, but ultimately they cannot save her. It’s easy for everyone in the family to forget about Jane, who doesn’t cause trouble and is not expected to perform as highly as Lizzie does. So when Jane becomes the only child, she has to find her way forward as her own person, not as a younger sister.
While Jane in Bloom by Deborah Lytton deals with heartbreaking issues, it is also uplifting. It ultimately can lead to a good discussion in a mother-daughter book club about family roles, eating disorders, and how to find what’s important to you in your life.