Review, Giveaway + More: A TRICK OF THE LIGHT By Lois Metzger

Today I have the pleasure of not only reviewing A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, a must read novel for this summer I also have a bit of insight to share from it's author LOIS METZGER. And for loyal followers I have a copy of A TRICK OF LIGHT to giveaway at the end of this post.


Mike Welles had everything under control. He was a good student, an outfielder on the baseball team, a good son, a loyal friend. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like a mess.Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, trying to help him regain control. More than that: The voice can guide him to be better and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.Writing with devastating power and precision, acclaimed author Lois Metzger gives us the story of one young man’s battle with his own shadows—a spare, stark, and vital tale of the way in which the things we build to protect ourselves can threaten to destroy us.




Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
By Lois Metzger,
Author of A Trick of the Light
It's a question writers often get asked. Some find it hard to answer, because ideas can float around in your head for a while, or several different entirely unrelated things may have to combine to create a story.
In the case of my new young-adult novel, "A Trick of the Light" (HarperCollins), I know exactly where I got the idea, and also when.
On Wednesday, August 4, 2004, I read an article in the New York Daily News called "Not For Girls Only."
The article began: "Sue Roberts couldn't stop fuming after watching a 'Dr. Phil' show on eating disorders. The two-part series features several girls with bulimia and anorexia. 'What about the boys?' she remembers asking herself, then furiously writing an e-mail to the talk-show host."
Sue Roberts' 16-year-old son, Justin, the article said, "almost starved himself to death after several doctor's visits missed important signs." Justin was "a straight-A student who wanted to be perfect in every way." At 13, a coach happened to tell Justin that he could "shave a few seconds off his mile time if he lost some weight." Then, around the same time, a tall thin boy, a classmate of Justin's, looked over at Justin, called him fat and laughed. "Maybe I am," Justin thought, and decided to stop eating, pretty much just like that.
At first, Justin's parents complimented him on how good he looked, how disciplined he was. Then they noticed he was dropping weight too rapidly, that his personality had changed. "We were all walking on eggshells because he would blow up about little things," his mother said.
Within four months, Justin, five feet tall and originally 130 pounds, went down to 82 pounds. The article explained: "His lips, fingertips and nails looked bluish. He wore baggy sweatshirts to hide his frail body, but he couldn't conceal the malnourishment evident in his sunken eyes and hollow cheeks."
Justin's mother couldn't prove to her insurance company that her son needed hospitalization, so finally she had him admitted on her own. "His condition was worse than she thought," the article went on. "His heart rate was 42 beats per minute. He had zero body fat. His body temperature was 92, and there were patches of hair growing on his stomach and neck. It was his body's way of trying to keep him warm. He was days away from death."
During his brief hospital stay, Justin "saw an emaciated girl walking in the hallway, talking to herself." He decided: "I really don't want to be like that." He began eating and he recovered fully. In less than a year, he grew four inches. Talking of his present state, he could say: "I'm more outgoing, more confident. I'm happy now."
I got a strange feeling while reading this article. Kind of an other-worldly, floating, almost surreal sensation. I've written only three previous novels, and the same thing happened before I began writing the other books, too. In each case I knew immediately that here was a story that wouldn't leave me alone.
So it's not really accurate to say this is where I got the idea for "A Trick of the Light." This is where the idea was getting me.
I got in touch with the writer of the excellent article I'd been reading, Julie Patel, then a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News (she now she writes for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida). She put me in touch with Sue Roberts and Justin. They were extremely helpful in giving me more details about the journey of recovery, and referred me to a doctor at Stanford University, James Lock, author of two ground-breaking books on eating disorders. Dr. Lock gave me the names of some doctors and families in NYC so I could meet and interview them. I stayed in contact with Sue Roberts; I'm very glad to say she wrote me recently that Justin, now a young man, remains happy and healthy.
The 15-year-old boy in my book, Mike Welles, has much in common with Justin. He, too, develops an eating disorder rather quickly, and loses weight alarmingly fast. A doctor misleadingly tells Mike he is fine, insisting that anorexia only affects girls. As the disease progresses, Mike's vital signs are similar to Justin's. Mike, too, encounters a girl at a hospital, who freaks him out because she's talking to herself. Mike doesn't recover as fast as Justin did, but he does take significant steps toward recovery.
Julie Patel's article emphasizes that eating disorders among men and boys are on the rise (this was almost ten years ago, and the problem has only gotten worse). Ten percent of people with eating disorders are male, and currently there are ten million people in the U.S. with eating disorders, which means at least a million boys and men (and many people say the figure is much higher). Their disease still gets missed by doctors who think only women and girls can get eating disorders, and many hospitals and eating-disorders clinics still only admit girls and women. Then, as now, eating disorders have the highest death rate of any psychological disorder, estimated between five and 20 percent.
I didn't realize, when the idea got hold of me, where it would lead -- right to the heart of a struggle against a disease that too often ends in tragedy.
© 2013 Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light

My Thoughts:

Not since Wintergirls have a read a book that shed some light on the illness that is anorexia. For as long as I have been aware this disease was always associated with females and not until A TRICK OF THE LIGHT by Lois Metzger had I even considered that this disease could also plague the male population. It was an eye opener to say the least.

As I began reading this novel I was introduced to the Mike Wells, a good teen whose sure existence turns into something fragile.  His home life is deteriorating: His father unavailable, his mother nearly catatonic. Mike was clearly at a precipice of change in his life, and his world as he knew it was never going to be the same. So, he decided to give into the voice that plagued his mind. At first his inner voice seemed to offer him strength and guidance but it quickly turned malevolent as Mike seeked to gain control by starving and over exercising. Every pound lost was a major victory, but it began to take toll on his life and when he comes close to death he realizes that all this control he thought he was actually the opposite.

I was fascinated by Mike's spooky inner voice. It was strong, reliable and supportive, everything you could want in a friend. It was easy to understand how mike could give into it's seductive encouragements even when it turned a point that was clearly dangerous. I was fascinated by everything that Mike would do to ensure his success and found it frightening. What is it that makes certain individuals make that drastic choice? An inner voice, a strong constitution, a lack of control? It is a subject I find fascinating and I was intrigued by witnessing it through a male perspective. 

A TRICK OF LIGHT is a mesmerizing look into an known issue that unknowingly also plagues young men. It is heartbreaking and terrifying and a must read for this summer.


I have a surprise for loyal readers. A copy of A TRICK OF LIGHT to giveaway. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good Luck!!

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