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Never Enough

by Denise Jaden

When Loann is dumped by her friends at the start of her penultimate year of high school, life has never seemed less fair, especially since everything is perfect as always for Loann’s sister, Claire, who is one year older but 10 times prettier, smarter, and more charming.

Then Loann meets quirky Marcus and discovers a love – and, more importantly, a talent – for photography. This newfound hobby acts as a successful framework for the novel, lending a visual aspect to Loann’s first-person narration.

Vancouver author Denise Jaden deserves praise for breaking conventions: everyone in Never Enough has a secret, but the narrative doesn’t end after the revelations. Instead, the messy and sometimes tragic consequences of these secrets are shown – the life that comes after the credits normally roll. While appealingly gutsy and witty, Loann is also realistically self-absorbed. She realizes that her perfect sister is in the grips of a life-threatening eating disorder long after the reader has already figured it out.

The book suffers a little from a surfeit of pamphlet-worthy issues (every character has at least one problem that could merit its own after-school special), but the central struggle of Claire’s eating disorder, and the effect it has on Loann and their parents, is successful and affecting in its bald, unflinching portrayal of anorexia and bulimia. There are no pat answers or sudden breakthroughs here, but rather a sophisticated treatment of a strained family trying to deal with a seemingly impossible situation.