Taking Up Space written by Alyson Gerber is a powerful middle-grade book about body image, disordered eating, and friendships. Sarah loves basketball more than anything and is a huge part of her identity. It makes her feel good and in control until her body begins to change. All of sudden, she isn’t fast anymore and feels like she has no control over how her body is changing. This leads to lower self-esteem and a developing eating disorder. Sarah begins to eat less and less and her consumption of food begins to take over her life and relationships.
This story is compelling because it doesn’t just focus on Sarah, it brings in her family’s influence (more specifically her mother’s influence) and her friendships with close friends and her new crush. How does Sarah’s mother’s perspective on food influence, Sarah? Read this powerful book to find out and how she works through getting help and beginning to heal.
Taking Up Space is an important read for middle-grade students and also parents. As a teen, I had a very close friend with eating disorders and it made me feel confused and overwhelmed. Luckily, I had a healthy family environment to discuss my feelings and help my friend. As a parent, I try my best to help my children have a positive self-image and a good relationship with food. However, sometimes we can’t control other influences like social media, friends, etc. and an eating disorder can develop right under our nose. After reading this book, I felt so touched by the story and the author’s connection to the topic. To learn more about Alyson Gerber and the process in writing the book, click here.
Taking Up Space can be an excellent book for a book club, classroom or home between a middle school child and their parent/caregivers. Here are some discussion questions to get you started!
How did Sarah’s character change from the beginning of the book to the end of the book?
What do you think about Sarah’s mom’s relationship with food and how did this affect Sarah?
What did Sarah learn about friendships throughout the book?
Discuss the friendship between Ryan and Sarah. In what ways was Ryan a good friend?
Have you ever felt that certain foods are “good” and “bad”? If so, let’s discuss more.
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