Monday, May 05, 2008

SKIN - booktalk

by Adrienne Vrettos
(Except for the last paragraph, this book talk is entirely from the first chapter of the book.)

These are the things you think when you come home to find that your sister has starved herself to death and you have dropped to your knees to revive her:

  1. My sister is flat like a board. There’s fat guys in the locker room with bigger boobs than she has.
  2. When I scream my sister’s name into her face, I can hear my father’s voice in my own.
  3. Where is it you’re supposed to press? In the middle, on the side? Left or right?

I choose middle. I put the heels of my hands, one on top of the other, on Karen’s chest. I can feel her ribs under the thick of her too-small sweater. When I press down, her head rocks a little, hanging huge on her neck. I feel nothing pulse against my hand. I count out, “One and two and three and four and five.” Something cracks under my palm and I yank my hands away, not because I broke her rib, but because she did nothing. I broke her and she didn’t even flinch.

“COME ON!” I scream, I shove my fingers into her mouth and pull it open. Her teeth move against my fingers. I suck in a breath and push it out, into her. Her chest rises. Fake alive. She doesn’t return my breath. “Karen?” I whisper.

I’m telling you this because you didn’t ask. I’ve got it all here, growing like a tumor in my throat. I’m telling you because if I don’t, I will choke on it. Everybody knows what happened, but nobody asks. And Elvis the EMT doesn’t count, because when he asked, he didn’t even listen to me answer because he was listening to my sister’s heart not beat with his stethoscope. I want to tell. It’s mine to tell. Even if you didn’t ask, you have to hear it.

This is my sister’s story. But it’s my story too, because even though I was invisible, I was there, and it happened to me, too. What’s harder, starving yourself to death or watching someone kill herself a little bit every day, knowing you can’t do anything about it?

My review of/thoughts about this book can be found here.

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