Book Review: Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

As I’ve reported here on the blog, I’ve made some major changes in diet and lifestyle. I was always a skinny youth. They called me twiggy in high school and college. I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease at twenty-one. I had a hyperthyroid and could eat anything in sight without gaining an ounce. I was 115 pounds in the fifth grade and 115 pounds the day after my third child was born. My doctor told me that my thyroid would someday wear out from overworking.

I developed terrible eating habits as a result and when that thyroid did wear out at age fifty, I quickly went to 230 pounds. Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes was my wake-up call. With diet and lifestyle changes I’ve managed to lose forty pounds. Even though I’ve slipped from time to time, I’ve only gained back about four pounds and I have my diabetes controlled down to where the figures indicate pre-diabetes. But my youngest son is not so lucky.

At sixteen, and nearing three-hundred and 5”6 inches, and dependent on inhalers for weight related asthma, he was fat-shamed, bullied and had his life threatened more than once. Dropping out of his Georgia high school is how he chose to handle the situation when he could not get support from school officials. Sitting at home playing video games, he fell deeper and deeper into the abyss, became horribly socially anxious, and his dad became his only friend, bringing him fast food and chicken wings by the pounds every evening. My son is a sweet-hearted guy who takes care of his grandparents and their farm as well as his ailing father.

I was living in Florida and felt helpless, powerless to do anything to improve his situation.

 

Carrie Rubin’s book, Eating Bull, is a medical thriller that addresses the food industry’s part in the staggering statistics of obesity in this country. Salt, fat and sugar…body altering oils that humans should never ingest, much less fry food in, are used to perpetuate a diet that cannot sustain life for many generations without disastrous consequences. The processed foods we enjoy are slowly but surely killing us and her book sheds light on both the emotional and physical challenges we face, while providing an edge of the seat thriller involving a mentally disturbed serial killer who is targeting the obese. I give this book four stars.

Click book to purchase

Click book to purchase

 

Blurb:

 

2016 Silver IPPY Award winner in Great Lakes Best Regional Fiction*

 

A fight against the food industry turns deadly.

 

Jeremy, a lonely and obese teenager, shoots into the limelight when a headstrong public health nurse persuades him to sue the food industry. Tossed into a storm of media buzz and bullying, the teen draws the attention of a serial killer who’s targeting the obese. Soon the boy, the nurse, and their loved ones take center stage in a delusional man’s drama.
In this novel of suspense, Eating Bull explores the real-life issues of bullying, fat-shaming, food addiction, and the food industry’s role in obesity.

  

“A solid thriller that manages to infuse one boy’s coming-of-age with a whole lot of murder.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

 

Book Review:

The plot in this book was brilliantly executed, however, the first half of Eating Bull was very difficult for me to get through. Although well-written, the main character’s dilemmas really hit home and my empathy for him was almost too much to bear. Having a close family member who suffered as Jeremy suffered made this a most painful and powerful read. Carrie Rubin is a physician who knows, all too well, the physical and emotional trauma of obesity and its consequences on children and adults. Her characters were so well-drawn and real that I could not help but realize this is a topic she feels strongly about.

Sue, the nurse who brings a law suit against the food industry, is, indeed, a warrior woman and well represents the myriad of people determined to change the world, one patient at a time. I did feel too much time was spent in her head and caused the story to lag a bit as a result. The ancillary characters and dysfunctional family members were equally as well-drawn and remarkably real.

With a deranged serial killer suffering from severe mental illness, another light shines on how little we understand and do for the mentally ill in this country. This all culminates into an action packed plot in a most believable thriller that I could see unfolding in real life with our reality TV dominating our current culture.

I wasn’t able to get into the book and enjoy it until about the half way mark when things began to turn around for Jeremy and the action picked up. I was thrilled to see the Native American spin and applaud how that entered the book. The ending was most satisfying. The food industry, like any other, is out to make money, but it makes me sad that individuals buy into unhealthy addictions. I enjoyed Seneca Scourge, as well, and look forward to Dr. Rubin’s next release.

27 thoughts on “Book Review: Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your son, Susan. He sounds like a special person. I’ve got Carrie’s book and I’m dying to read it. My dream is to take two weeks off from work and just read….

  2. It sounds like your son had a very rough time growing up. I’m sorry that the schools failed him and let such ridiculous bullying persist. I applaud him for having a big heart and for all he does for family.

    Carrie’s book sounds like a unique and original twist for a thriller. I do agree that all the processed junk we keep dumping into our bodies is at fault for so many health problems we have today. Kudos to Carrie for addressing that in her novel.

    A thoughtful and insightful review, Susan.

    • You know, I never thought of myself as having any triggers, but I guess I do. I loved the book, and adored the ending, despite the trigger factor. When I think of triggers, I think of rape, incest, abortion or violence. Who woulda thunk fat-shaming a young man woulda beena trigger? I guess we all live under our own guns.

      • I’m sure I’d feel the same were I to read something that paralleled the struggles of my child. It’s always more difficult to suffer our kids’ pain than our own, I think.

        • Exactly. I’ve helped my kids get through some tough times like most any parent would, but this obesity thing doesn’t lend itself to any quick fixes or easy interventions. And food addiction is as life-long and severe as any other drug or alcohol addiction. The person suffering has to hit their bottom and struggle through the change when they are ready. Only if and when they are ready.

          • What makes it even harder is while we don’t need tobacco or alcohol, we DO need food. It’s not like we can quit it cold turkey and try to avoid running into food like cigarettes or tobacco. So changing the way we eat while still getting the nourishment can be very difficult. Not that I’m minimizing tobacco or alcohol addiction–not by a long shot–but food is everywhere, and the addiction is real.

            • The convenience factor of unhealthy processed foods is just as addicting as taste. We’re all looking to save time in this fast-paced world we live in. I’ve been happy to see some smaller cafes around here and even some chains going healthier. People are paying more attention to healthy options and the food industry is having to pay attention to them. I saw where McDonalds closed 700 restaurants last year and is closing 500 more this year. Chipotle broke away and went non-GMO and the industry tried to run them out, but with so much community support, they couldn’t. I’d love to see Amy’s Kitchens occupy those vacant spaces…even if they weren’t vegan/vegetarian, but organic, non-GMO and grass fed beef, free range chicken…and so on. The other part of the equation is getting the general public educated. I trained as a nurse when everything medical, ADA and AMA where all pushing diets supported by the very flawed Jupiter study of 1967. We made it unlawful to cook with lard or tallow and force-fed America GMO soy and canola oils and other polyunsaturated oils…the worst possible oils for building permeable cell walls and promoting health. And don’t get me started with the insurance company’s approach to all of this…the way they try to control physicians efforts is absolutely appalling and based primarily on what the pharmaceutical companies are promoting and making easier to afford. A travesty…and real travesty. While homeopathic doctors and nutritionists are dying under suspicious circumstances almost daily. I’ve never been one to jump on conspiracy bandwagons, but something just isn’t right. My husband’s employer has a health coaching program through insurance that follows you closely. You get bonus health dollars to spend if you participate. My doctor had agreed to drop my metformin down to once daily when my A1C went down from 7.5 to 5.7. Shortly after, we splurged during our vacation and ate any and everything. Of course my next A1C was 6.2. My doctor got a nasty letter from the insurance company practically demanding my dose be increased. They chose pleasant words, but the effect was the same. I had a repeat Spectracell nutritional panel (at my expense) and made some changes and now have it back to 5.9…but metformin had nothing to do with it. I feel for people who can’t afford to really know what their nutritional panel looks like, because insurance won’t pay for it. How can they possibly know what changes to make when they are misinformed about what is wrong and uneducated about how to fix it? “Here, just take this pill, eat less and exercise more.”

                • It’s amazing to me as a health care practitioner trained in the eighties how much has changed in just the past five to fifteen years. Most main stream physicians are not even in tune. We have a long way to go. I thank you for writing about this. It took courage to face these issues head on. It does get people talking and thinking. That’s a start.

    • I miss her more than you know and was delighted to have her stop by today. The book was very well done, and I did end up enjoying it despite personal my sensitivities.

  3. Yeah, wow. Reading your story about your son, I would have thought of Jeremy even without knowing in advance this was going to be an Eating Bull review. Sorry it was so hard for you. Good of you to review it, though.

  4. Carrie has some great posts on her blog, “The Write Transition,” and (sadly) has given it up for a while to concentrate more on her writing.

    The subject of “Eating Bull” is so critical, given the high rates of obesity among America’s youth. I have never in my entire life seen so many fat kids and teens. When I was that age, I’d rarely see a heavy-set child. They always suffered from bullying. But now, there are more of them; yet the bullying hasn’t stopped. Equally important, though, is that more and more children and teens are developing liver problems and Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was also known as “adult onset” diabetes because it would develop in people who had led a poor lifestyle. That it’s showing up in so many young people is unsettling. Pediatricians overall are alarmed by the trend, which shows no signs of diminishing. First Lady Michelle Obama rightfully pointed out a while back that it’s a national security matter. If people have liver and heart ailments as children, how could they possibly serve as police officers, fire fighters and other first responders? Diabetes and other health issues take up a lot of time and energy. Could we reasonably expect someone with a bad heart to monitor our nation’s missile defense system, for example?

    I personally don’t know anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder. But a friend and former colleague underwent a weight reduction procedure several years ago, which cured her lupus and thwarted her Type 2 diabetes. I’ve often told people not to view their weight as a cosmetic issue, but rather, as a health concern. In that regard, they take it more seriously.

    • Like so many people my age, I discounted the weight gain as just one of those things that happens with age and my husband did the same. I was so glad he was onboard with me to make changes. I feel for children and parents today. It’s so easy to make bad food choices, especially with processed convenience foods. Not a world I would wish to have grown up in. My kids grew up on a farm and had wholesome foods as long as I was there to prepare them. Although I had to make a most difficult decision in relocating to FL after my divorce, the guilt lingers with hindsight.

  5. Oh, Susan, I’m so sorry for what your son goes through. I can imagine that this book would fit very very close to home. I did not have that problem at all in the first half of the book. The pacing is excellent, etc. I still haven’t had a chance to review the book, but I do think that you are right that the problem you had is that the subject is too close to your heart.

    • I really didn’t mean for all of that to come out in the review. The book is exceptionally well written, but you are right, reading it was very personal. My son is thirty now and has struggled to find his place in the world for a long, long time. Overweight, with no education, reclused to the farm, I’m not sure what that place will ultimately be.

  6. I was going to say that I hope your son is doing better, but I see from your comment above, that his life and his place in it are still uncertain. Has he considered online courses to complete his education?
    The book sounds very interesting, but I can understand how the first half was difficult for you to read. I thought it was funny that the nurse is named Sue, and you describe her as a warrior. It’s how I think of you.

  7. My heart breaks, reading about the troubles you son experienced. It’s so true how this country pushes unhealthy foods; it’s no wonder more than half the population is overweight.

    On a lighter note: did you get your images fixed? I tried to leave a comment, but it said the post was no longer available.

    • I’m really struggling with junk food right now, myself. I had it beat for a year then fell off the wagon during vacation. Hard to get back on it. Doing better, but still sneaking a sweet from time to time and my blood sugars are telling on me.

      Yep. I trashed it after I got it fixed. I fixed Carrie’s but I haven’t gone through the others. So crazy. What used to take about two seconds and one click, now takes several and three different pages to fix.

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