By Vaneeta Vaid
Children’s Book Trust, 2019, pp. 104, R70.00
Bulimia is estimated to affect 6.5 million people…Bulimia is frequently associated with other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and problems with drugs or alcohol. There is also a higher risk of suicide and self-harm.
Vaneeta Vaid’s story about a Class X student named Kalyani who develops an eating disorder due to her obesity is addressed to schools, parents and our entire community that encourages body shaming while laying emphasis on stereotyped physical appearances for girls. With a powerful social message aimed at the physical and mental wellbeing of children, Vaneeta shows just how easy it is for eating disorders to take root in an individual while remaining unnoticed by close friends and families.
The protagonist of this short novel is a shy but brilliant high schooler with few friends mainly due to her ‘baby elephant’ and slovenly appearance that includes the bad habit of nail biting. Praised by her teachers, especially her math teacher for her good grades, motivation and keen willingness to help her fellow students, Kalyani is proud of the attention. At the beginning of the novel Kalyani’s best and perhaps only friend, Simi informs Kalyani that she will be changing schools, rendering Kalyani a social pariah amongst her classmates who jeer at her almost Sumo wrestler-like appearance.