Sparks, Beatrice. Kim: Empty Inside: The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager. Harper Teen, 2002. ISBN 978-0380814602 176 pp. $
It’s amazing; the voice of the teen in this anonymous diary is the exact same immature and ignorant voice of the teen in Treacherous Love, the last book Sparks “edited!” Kim, a fan of excessive exclamation points, just wants to be thin and have a boyfriend. Throughout the journal, we learn of Kim’s college applications, crush on a boy who turns out to be gay, struggles with gymnastics, and move into her mother’s old sorority’s house in college (er, do you automatically get accepted if your alumni parents were members?). Kim deals with all of her problems by binge and purge cycles, or by fasting. She is astute enough to recognize that food makes her feel good when she is down, and that she is using food to celebrate or make herself feel better in certain situations. She also recognizes that as a competitive athlete she needs to eat healthy, but those phases only last a day or two at most. The mandatory hospitalization and ensuing therapy put Kim on the path to recovery when she realizes that all she really suffers from is low self-esteem.
In spite of the inauthentic voice and multitude of problems, Sparks manages to deliver some important information through the cheesy narrative. It is surprising that Sparks doesn’t mention the recent trend of websites promoting eating disorders. To give her credit, she never mentions a specific weight until the very end, when we learn that Kim only weighs 79 pounds and still perceives herself as fat. This makes the narrator a bit more acceptable as everygirl, and won’t make readers of a healthy size question their own weight. A list of warning signs and associations to contact for more information make this a bibliotherapy title.