The Girl of Triggers and Thorns


Madeleine Cassier
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“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” (The Fault in Our Stars)

When Rebecca posted her piece on body image, and the inclusion of a “fat heroine” in Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I started thinking back on my experience of first reading that novel. Nobody had told me that Elisa was “fat” or that body image and self-love played a crucial role in her character development. Nobody had also told me that, in the first novel, there are instances of Elisa emotionally driven to bingeing upon food to the point of physical pain and later vomiting it all back up. (Please note that all bold-typed emphases within utilized quotations are my own.)

I’m not sure how long I stand there, joined to the serving table as if by design. Eventually, I feel Ximena’s gentle hand on my upper arm.

“Let’s go, my sky.”

I don’t resist when she pulls me away, and I stumble after her, so full I can hardly breathe.” (Thorns, 120)

At the time that I picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was a still-recovering bulimic; I had not yet reached my one year anniversary of entering treatment, let alone being considered “clear” or “healed.” I went into this book, one that I had seen praised from reviewers on Booktube — that corner of YouTube where people review books — with whom I shared similar literary tastes, knowing only that it was a YA fantasy about a girl with something called the “godstone” who must become queen. There was not a single “trigger warning” for eating disorders.

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