I was searching Bargain Books for a book for me to read and a present for a friend as it was her birthday this last Friday. They had a ‘buy two for R99′ and my purchase was The Elephant in the Room and Jasmyn by Alex Bell (which was for the gift).
Maya Fowler was born in Cape Town and grew up in Stellenbosch. Her novel The Elephant in the Room (2009) was shortlisted for the Herman Charles Bosman Prize.
“Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.
It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.
and that is exactly what this book does. I found it rather horrifying that a parent can so very blatantly ignore her daughter’s eating issues. Lily Fields is the main character in this novel and starts as a young girl and her passage growing up into a young adult. Her mother is apathetic and the grandmother is domineering, not the most wonderful combination for ones role models. Lily decides that she needs to lose weight because she feels her legs are too squat and her hips are too wide. The nasty comments from the girls at school do not help to give her confidence and so she stops eating. Well as much as she can possibly stop eating, but then discovers that if she does eat, she can just purge it after stuffing herself. This is Lily’s story of addiction, of the circles and lies the mind consistently weaves.
It is also the story of how, if as a parent you are not present, you can ignore the obvious truth of what is happening right in front of you.
For me, this was a poignant, sad but beautifully written novel of a young girls eating disorder, set in Kalk Bay, Plumstead and The Karoo Farm, it encapsulates thoughts of a girl growing up.
It made me vow to always be present in my daughter’s life, to notice and to never ignore anything.