Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying
Nothing is perfect, and as such, the reviews in this blog are chaotic. My main aim is to share my thoughts, joy and opinions on a book, not make a publication perfect review. This blog endorses authenticity, showing up and joy over perfection.
Disclaimer: Receiving a review copy from the publisher does not affect my opinion of the book. If you think I review it highly it is due to me knowing my taste well and therefore not requesting books I won’t enjoy. And I am not obligated to review the book if I do not like it, so you may not see bad reviews due to me preferring not to hype down a particular book. I only do reviews of books I disagreed with if I think it is worth bringing a topic or warning to light.
I cant remember what made me pre-order this book, since I have been limiting my preorders a lot, trying to only buy a few preorders and read through my backlog, which is honestly terrifying. But I am glad I did.
Hungry Ghost takes is through the story of Valerie, who since she was young has felt the pressure to be perfect. And perfect is not just good grades, and being a good daughter, but being thin. And being thin comes at a cost which turns into purging and binging.
The story explains a little on why there is this pressure, and family dynamics, but you also learn a lot about Val in the way she interacts with her best friend Jordan.
I have to say that I enjoyed the art a lot and it lend itself to the story beautifully, each bouncing off the other and making it into a gorgeous graphic novel. The details are lovely, there’s a lot of keeping to a few nice palettes and themes, and there is joy in this work despite the topics included.
This leads to the fact that this is a book with a few content warnings, some of which be spoilers but still, my advise is to come at it knowing there is grief, toxic projections from a parent and of course eating disorders which then touch on fatphobia and similar issues. Still, it was nice to see Val journey through confronting her own “demons” and what her mind has created out of what everyone else has said to her, and the shape it has taken.
It also makes you question where you get your value and if chasing things like thinness or perfection truly brings you the happiness needed or if is it a failed attempt before you even start? Honestly, I breezed through this one and just felt enthralled by it.
One last thing is that it shines in showing that relationships in many ways, shapes and forms can be complex, and sometimes love is shown in a huge variety of ways, and sometimes someone only knows how to love in a certain way and all we can do is do our best to bridge the gap and show them how to love us in a way that suits us better. It is easier when you stop seeing everyone as the enemy and start understanding that we all have our own things that have shaped us to show love in a certain way. It doesn’t justify things, but it means you understand better and you try to love others better but also love yourself and know your boundaries, and be kinder to others.
I recommend it is a wonderful story with good depth and fascinating art.