Trish at Between My Lines's Reviews > Countless

Countless by Karen Gregory
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2017, ya, contemporary, library

This review was originally posted on Between My Lines

Countless by Karen Gregory hits a myriad of emotions, and caused me countless tears.  The emotions jumped straight from the page to strike me where it hurt.  In the heart, in the gut.  All over.  Because it's such a realistic portrait of an eating disorder, and I ached while reading it.

First Line of Countless by Karen Gregory

"The cigarette between my fingers is thin, insubstantial."

Thoughts on Countless by Karen Gregory

Hedda has countless problems. But she is a fan of numbers and lists, so I think she'd appreciate me counting the biggest issues facing her.

She is single, seventeen, and pregnant
23 weeks pregnant, so too late for an abortion, if that was something she even wanted to consider
She has anorexia
Her parents have thrown her out
Her best friend Molly died 20 weeks ago, from an eating disorder
She lives alone in a teeny, damp, dingy flat in a tower block
Her name is Hedda!  Seriously, that's awful!

This book gives you a heartbreaking insight to the destructive cycle of Anorexia.  Hedda has given control of her life to Nia (as she calls it).  When she discovers she is pregnant, she vows to eat, for her baby's health.

"I count out the weeks in my head, then the days, then the meals.  Seventeen weeks, 119 days, 357 meals.  I can do it, if I take them one at a time."


There are no easy solutions in this book.  It's far too realistic for that.  No band-aid to cover the wound, and shield our eyes from the scabs underneath.  Instead we see it all raw and messy.  Her love for her baby doesn't magically fix everything.  Hedda's new neighbour is a kind guy, but he can't cure her.  Her parents love, then threats, then abandonment don't do the trick.  I loved Hedda, even if at times she frustrated me.  I wanted her to choose an easier road, but that wasn't on her map.

Something small that broke my heart was that she loved books, but wouldn't allow herself choose books she wanted at the library.  Instead she grabbed books at random from the returns shelf without even checking the titles.  Like I said, she does everything the hard way.

There is a spark of hope that runs through the book, and that helps balance the emotional intensity.  Hedda's voice is just so lively, and honest that I spent the whole book willing her to succeed.  And I appreciated how hard her counsellors worked with her, as it showed the support was there.  But demonstrated just how difficult it is for them too to find the right words, at the right time.

The language in the book is perfect.  For such a heavy subject, it is told in a very relatable way.  With lists, and a vivid urban English setting, with flawed characters, a demon called Nia, and no hero swooping in.  Yes, it's a tough read, with raw feels, but these is not a subject to be treated lightly.

The Bottom Line

A powerful, vivid, sad book that moved me so much.  I loved Hedda, and her battle to regain control is one I won't forget in a hurry.

Who should read Countless by Karen Gregory

I'd highly recommend this to you if you like YA contemporary books that deal with serious issues like eating disorders and teenage pregnancy.  Fans of authors such as Alice Oseman, Holly Bourne and Louise O'Neill should also enjoy.
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Reading Progress

May 13, 2017 – Shelved
May 13, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
May 13, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
May 13, 2017 – Shelved as: ya
June 2, 2017 – Started Reading
June 2, 2017 – Shelved as: library
June 2, 2017 – Shelved as: contemporary
June 2, 2017 –
page 23
5.99% "So much raw emotion, and I'm only in page 23!"
June 4, 2017 –
33.0% "Hedda's mother vexes me. She interferes unnecessarily, but scampers when Hedda needs her most.

And she named her daughter Hedda. What the hell!"
June 4, 2017 – Finished Reading

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