The picture on the front of Haley Hatch Freeman’s book A Future for Tomorrow tells it all. A slender young woman looks in the mirror and sees a blimped-out version of herself. I looked at that sketch and said (ungrammatically), “That was me!” I always felt like such an elephant, but now, fifty years later, I look at pictures of myself in high school and realize I had a terrific figure.
Do we all do that? Haley Freeman takes us into the mind and life of a young woman who carries that skewed self-perception to an extreme. Because she was a regular diarist from childhood, she has a written record of her thoughts at the time. It’s a sad little window, and she’s a brave gal for letting us look through.
Before you begin, look at the last three pages of the book. There is a happy ending. Getting there is tough going, but hang in there. The journey will be instructive, as Haley intends to teach you through her experience. She hasn’t done this to entertain or to garner fame. She wants parents and families to understand and recognize the signs of an eating disorder and to understand that an eating disorder can ravage more than the physical body.
The writing isn’t polished, but that fits. It’s a young girl’s story. Haley’s use of her own and her friend’s diaries, along with the notes of the medical people who attended her, are powerful tools in telling that story.
If I were to read it again, I would read Part I backward, by chapter. Haley explains her reason for structuring Part 1 to go back in time, but I need to see things laid out in narrative as they happened, and it was a bit disorienting.
A Future for Tomorrow would be a great book for a young woman and a mom to read and discuss. It would be a meaty book for a book club to discuss. It’s not Pride and Prejudice or Twilight, as it was written for a different purpose, but it is sure to spark a lively debate.