‘Nothing Tastes As Good’ – Claire Hennessy

Nothing Tastes as Good

Released in July 2016, this novel by Claire Hennessy has come in for criticism with some reviewers who dislike the sentiments expressed about body image and size. Perhaps I’m missing something, but the blurb hints strongly at the nature of the illness our main character, Annabel, has been living with. I think it’s unnecessarily provocative to seize on the thoughts and ideas she has (which are the product of her illness) and to see them as representative of the author’s views. Indeed, in response to me asking Claire Hennessy on Goodreads what she felt about those readers who had been critical of this novel she had this to say:

Hennessy quote

Annabel, our main character, is dead. As a ghost desperate for further contact with her family she is asked to complete an assignment. Her assignment involves helping someone she used to go to school with – Julia. Initially, Annabel is not told how she has to help Julia and it was a little confusing trying to work out just how the girls were linked and what Annabel would be required to do.

What I loved from the start was the way Hennessy portrayed the character of Annabel. Comments about her personal health and circumstances, and her comments about Julia and other girls she has met, suggest that Annabel is not quite as healthy and strong-minded as she believes herself to be. The gradual revelation of the extent to which Annabel and those around her have been affected by her anorexia was powerful.

Although Annabel is the main character, Julia’s role in the novel is equally important. Through Julia, Hennessy sensitively explores a number of issues that impact on many teenage girls today.

This is, in my view, a brave book and one that I feel any teenager – or adult working with teenagers – should be encouraged to read.