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What I Lost

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,234 ratings  ·  587 reviews
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restrict ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Shannon Fay Yes. In that way, it can be triggering to someone who is in the depths of this illness and is on the struggling end of things, because there's mention…moreYes. In that way, it can be triggering to someone who is in the depths of this illness and is on the struggling end of things, because there's mentions of many triggering things: restricting, calories, weight, sizes, the shitty feelings regarding food. Everyone I have known or heard from though that has suffered an eating disorder and read this book says that it paints a very accurate portrayal of eating disorders. (Hence the triggering part for people with eating disorders, because it is accurate enough to bring up those feelings if you're struggling and not in a good place, mentally. So just be cautious of that. But that said I think this book could also be helpful to those who've struggled, or are struggling with ED, because it can give them some solidarity, assuming they won't be triggered by it.)

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY: This book does not glorify eating disorders. It shows the harsh reality of them and unlike many other eating disorder books, it discusses in far more detail, the negative health effects that come along with eating disorders, like malnutrition and the various havoc wreaked on your internal organs from eating disorders, all that stuff. So it definitely accurately represents ED medically too.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: The message of this book is that recovery is possible. It isn't easy, but it's possible, and you can get better. And the best part is that in this book, recovery doesn't happen because of a guy or because of love, recovery happens the way it actually does: through hard work.

Hope that fully answers your question.(less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Emma Giordano
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I seriously loved this book so so much. What I Lost may be one of my new favorite books of all time. This read was wholeheartedly honest, informational, authentic, raw, and powerful.

I'm going to place a trigger warning for eating disorders on this book, as well as any of my discussions about this book. While I sincerely love this book, I absolutely think it contains some content that could be triggering to those suffering from similar diseases. There's talk of weight, sizes, calories, a lot o
♛ may
Well…this is awkward.

I picked this book up on a whim (while I was reading 2 other books keep in mind) bc it seemed short and the cover is so 😍 sadly tho, this happened. . .

First off, I’d like to say, that you NEED to take my two piddley little stars with a grain of salt bc there is NOTHING wrong with the book in itself. I’m just a very picky reader and I need to stop but that’s a different story.

Also, I'd like you to keep in mind, that while I haven’t struggled with an eating disorder ENTIRELY
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4,75☆ this book is not perfect but I’m glad it exists
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
As someone who has struggled most of my life with disordered eating, I am a total sucker for contemporaries about EDs. They can be triggering when done poorly, but when done well, these books can be incredibly cathartic for me, so when I read the synopsis on this book, I knew it was right up my alley.

This book offers an incredibly realistic view of EDs. It starts off by explaining how people suffering from anorexia can develop lanugo, a downy coating of hair on their body, and I w
Aj the Ravenous Reader
A closer look at eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia- concepts that usually never interested me but What I Lost is simply an engaging novel that makes the reader understand better these health and mental conditions.

It’s quite eye-opening really understanding how people with these conditions think, how most of them even believe it’s normal and it’s what they really desire and also kind of sad that for some, it’s their parents who somehow caused their illness both genetically and behavi
Laura McNeal
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
There's a love story in this book that despite its very realistic American high school setting gives the satisfactions of the classic Jane Austen paradigm (bad suitor, good suitor, mistaken first impressions). And I personally enjoy a story that makes me feel--via the character--that I have a shot at dealing with the mean voices in my head. I loved the father in this book, and the portrait of the mother adds a new dimension to the anorexia story. If you've read "The Fat Girl" by Andre Dubus, you ...more
2nd read: 4.5/5 stars. My feelings on this book are pretty much the exact same as the first time I read it. I feel so much appreciation for what this book has done. I loved that at the end you are left with a feeling of hope much like the main character however you do still wonder what will happen, much like how Elizabeth would have been feeling. I also really appreciate the fact that she doesn't suddenly get cured by a relationship because that not how it happens. I just really think this is su ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 4-star-5-star

This book is about a girl named Elizabeth that has anorexia and gets checked into a treatment center. This book is really good. The different relationship dynamics that forms throughout the book was the best part.

There were many different relationships shown throughout the story and the story really goes into depth to show how Elizabeth feels and interacts with each one. There was solidarity and encouragement by the other girls at the treatment center, but their struggles were also shown to El
Julia Sapphire
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
TW: Eating Disorders, Anxiety, and Self Harm

"You have been through a war, and you've won"


This was everything I could have asked for in a book dealing with eating disorders. I will say another major trigger warning for eating disorders!

The writing was so great and flowed really nicely. You could tell that the facts were spot on and that this author really did her research. This book was so raw and powerful. It felt so real for me and I think this book is SO IMPORTANT. I
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
WHAT I LOST is that kind of book.

The one that manages to take a familiar idea, twist it into something new, unheard of, or unique, all while using the same familiar foundation.

It’s different, yet it’s not.

And what I mean by that is simple: While WHAT I LOST may seem, from the outside, your average contemporary, the way Alexandra Ballard approached the topic of eating disorders (specifically, anorexia, which I haven’t seen much in YA lately, so you can probably imagine my excitement and fascinati
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Very healthy Y.A. readers, with adult guidance
This was a disturbing look into the minds of young girls with eating disorders. The lengths that they went to in order to get thin and stay that way were amazing, in a heart-breaking way.
I would certainly not recommend this book to anyone that I suspect has even a hint of a current eating disorder. The tricks that were used to avoid eating would have to be described as very cleverly thought out and implemented. I would be fearful that a person with an eating disorder that reads this might think
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I don't know what it is about this book, but it's really well put together.

I don't know a lot about eating disorders past what's common knowledge. However, I will say from what I know about development and the progression of thought that Ballard did a very good job of balancing her inner struggles with her forward movement. The novel is very realistic in the way that it portrays her path. In that, she begins with this period of disbelief and the 'not-me' mentality and goes through a lot of the
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

Elizabeth's involuntary stay in an eating disorder residential facility begins with typical resistance. As she befriends other patients, she begins to take steps toward recovery. She continues to receive gifts from a secret admirer who may or may not be her ex.

Unlike most eating disorder books, WHAT I LOST delves more deeply into Elizabeth's mother's undiagnosed eating disorder. Alexandra Ballard does a good job balancing friendship, therapy and family dynamics. Her writing style flows u
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
There was one part I really liked and related with though it was so small but for the most part this was a pain to get through. The MC was so immature and selfish and the dialogue was pretty stiff and blah at times. I did not love it.
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, physical-2017
Holy. Shit. What an incredible story! I had no idea anorexia had so many levels, this was an eye opening novel. I hope everyone adds to their TBR! I cannot wait to write my review.

Review can be found here:

I was not prepared for this book to hit me as hard as it did. This was such a compelling and complex journey for a high school female dealing with anorexia. The stigma on today’s teens to look a certain way is overpowering. I’m surprised there aren’t mor
Jenny Baker
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Oh my God, look at that cover! Doesn’t it look delicious? As I read this, I was chomping away on a Ghirardelli Intense Dark chocolate bar with sea salt and almonds, my favorite.

I love reading fiction novels that deal with eating disorders. I don’t have an eating disorder, but I’ve always been fixated with my weight and food. I still do. As far as eating disorder fiction goes, this is a middle-of-the-road read; however, it had the potential of being one of the better ones.

Most of the s
Lauren R.
Damn that was powerful and SO addicting. I physically couldn't put this down and read all 400 pages today in basically one sitting. I'm not sure of its accuracy because I have no experience with eating disorders, but wow - if this is what people go through, I am so amazed at the willpower to get through it. I loved Elizabeth because she really tried so hard. Everything about this was top-notch.

Full review:

Trigger warning for eating disorders and some self-harm.

Initial Excitement

I had almost zero
Read by Coco ✨
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
‘“You have been through a war, and you’ve won”. The war wasn’t over. I had so much more work to do. I’d win a few big battles, and that counted for something’

I bought this book because a booktuber I like just read it, and also because I deal with issues with eating disorders (currently trying to recover) myself. I read this after reading paperweight, and this was a good read, but it felt more sugar coated and more like a YA set within an ED hospital rather than a YA about ED’s. Maybe that was du
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This went better than I thought it would. Since this is about an eating disorder I wasn't sure how rough it was going to be. Like anybody is this situation she had some ups and downs but luckily with help she overcame it. ...more
ira ✨
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i honestly don't even know where to start. this might be my most personal review yet, but i have to start somewhere and i HAVE to write about it so i guess i'll just go with: there are no words to describe how i felt about this book, and how much i loved it - more than that, how much it meant to me - not just as a reader, but as someone who's been through the same struggles as the characters. it's a rare occurrence for me to read contemporary of any kind (and enjoy it), but this book was so much ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*A copy of this book was provided to me by Raincoast Books for the exchange of an honest review*

⚠️Trigger warning: eating disorders.

I absolutely loved this book. I think it depicted a true and honest story of a girl battling anorexia. Personally, I didn't have an eating disorder but when I was younger there was a time when I had a difficult relationship with food and I found this book hard to read at times, which I'm guessing would be even harder for someone who is or has struggled with any an
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gr9-summer-books
"People say anorexics don't see themselves as they really are. But what if anorexics are the only ones who do? What if we are the clear-eyed ones, and everybody else out there see some brain-altered version of themselves, a massive mind trick designed to make them feel better?"

4.5 stars. See, I've only read a few books about anorexia, but I have to say it would be pretty hard to find one that would top What I Lost.

This novel was simply so honest. In the few books about anorexia I read, I do re
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great YA book featuring a teenage girl who goes to rehab for her eating disorder. I don’t have personal experience with the problems she faces, so I can’t say how accurate it is. But the characters felt real and relatable and from my limited viewpoint, I thought the story was well done.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I think I really needed this right now
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars: I can't even really describe how this book made me feel but I just kept turning the pages because I needed to know what happened to the girls at Wallingfield (The eating disorder facility) and how they were doing. Reading how the girls felt about their bodies was heartbreaking and it shows why being body positive is so important because eating disorders are dangerous. I highly recommend this book. ...more
Suzi Evelyn
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
TW: anorexia

i’d like everyone to know that my entire heart now belongs to Elizabeth Barnes. her growth in this story is absolutely breathtaking and, even though my heart shattered for her so many times, i adore and admire her so much. fortunately, i’ve never had to go through anything similar to Elizabeth’s experiences, but the way the author wrote this story felt so raw and authentic. i think this is an own voices novel, so that explain how completely honest this book felt. i got to see elizab
Trigger warnings: eating disorders, mentions of self harm, mental health, bullying, terrible parenting.

I've been looking for a while now for a YA contemporary that's similar to Paperweight, and in this I think I've finally found it. This wasn't as emotionally hard hitting as Paperweight is, simply because it doesn't also have the grief element to the story.

HOWEVER. This was still a really solid story about a teenage girl being admitted to an eating disorder clinic and fighting against recovery.
"You have been through a war, and you've won."

Trigger warning: Eating disorders, anxiety, self-harm.

I am so, so glad I decided to pick up this book. At first, it was just the synopsis and the cover that attracted me. No one had recommended it to me (speaking of which, how come?) and I'd never heard anyone talk about it (again, how come??)

And now I know there is so much more about this book that makes it so good. As someone who still struggles with body image and relates a lot to that voice i
Jun 07, 2020 added it
I can’t give that book a rating because it just feel too personal and I don’t know I just can’t think about any rating.

First big trigger warning about eating disorders and a little bit about self harmed.

Anyway I’m not going to speak about this book anywhere else so let’s speak a little bit about it here. First when I start this book i know it would be triggering, not gonna lie that kind of why I read it, I know it’s bad, please don’t do it, it just make things worse. Anyway it make the job no su
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it

I'm putting a huge TRIGGER WARNING for eating disorders. There are talk about weight, sizes, calories, a lot of food anxiety. Please do not read this if any of this triggers you or you are struggling with an eating disorder.

I seriously love this book so much. This story was so honest, raw, informational and powerful.

This was everything I could ask for in a book dealing with eating disorders. This is a story of recovery and it's done so well.

The writing was also really great and it flowed
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“What he didn’t understand was that we weren’t choosing this. Not anymore, anyway. The first time Simone threw up, she made that choice. And no one else made me go on my bikini diet. But after a while our eating disorders messed with our brains. They became something we didn’t have control over. Something we couldn’t stop by ourselves even if we wanted to.” 4 likes
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