Countless by Karen Gregory


Author: Karen Gregory

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 4th 2017

Format: eARC (384 pages)

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When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time …

Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory’s debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can’t be counted. Perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt and Sarah Crossan.

My Rating: ★★★★★

Warning: This book and review both talk about an eating disorder, please do not read on if this may trigger you in any way.

Wow. This book had a real hold on my heart and emotions from the very first pages and that grip only tightened as the story went on. I felt like I was with Hedda on her journey and so wanted to wrap her up in cotton wool and take care of her.

From experiences on the unit, to counting calories, exercising and that voice in her head, Hedda’s anorexia, or Nia as she calls it, is life consuming, until she discovers that she is pregnant. When faced with this enormous life changing experience, Hedda is forced to confront her own feelings, fears and emotions. But what will her future be?

This book is so emotionally driven and it is such a raw read. I don’t have any personal experience with having an eating disorder and neither have I been a teenage mother and I found this book to be a real eye opener. It gave a really honest insight into being anorexic and how hard it is to fight your own demons. The way in which Nia was always there looking over Hedda’s shoulder, ready to pounce and spit out spiteful names at her was something that really got me because it was such a powerful way to show the world just how life consuming having an eating disorder is. There isn’t a moment in this book where Hedda’s mind isn’t somehow straying towards counting calories or comparing herself to others and it is frightening to say the least. I am thankful that I’ve read this book because I genuinely feel that I’ve learnt so much from it.

Teenage pregnancy is another topic which still seems to be somewhat taboo in the UK and that is tackled head on in this novel. There are many occasions where Hedda is receiving dirty looks or is made to feel uncomfortable and whilst we must also take on board that this will be because of her appearance too, there is something to be said for those who judge teenage mothers. At the young age of seventeen and completely isolated Hedda certainly does not have an easy time of it when Rose comes along. It was so heartwarming to read of Hedda’s journey with Rose and to see how that motherly love just blossomed over time into something so special and beautiful. Of course it is not plain sailing but Hedda’s love for Rose knows no bounds and the last few chapters and the epilogue of this book absolutely destroyed me. I think that sobbing would be an understatement.

This book is beautifully written and deals with such a raw and complex subject matter in a really authentic and meaningful way. This book is a very difficult read and I imagine that for someone with personal experience it may be too difficult. That is something that really needs to be considered on an individual basis. Personally I loved that this book didn’t have a fairytale ending. Hedda’s problems weren’t solved by a knight in shining armour and there wasn’t a happy ever after. What we ended up with was a heartbreaking story that felt real. It was worth every single tear that I shed.

Thank you, Karen Gregory, for putting Hedda’s story out there.

A big thank you to Netgalley, Bloomsbury and Karen Gregory for my advance copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Have you read Countless?

What did you think?


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9 responses to “Countless by Karen Gregory

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  7. I haven’t heard of this book before. Thanks for bringing it to light for me!

    I have known some people who have severe eating disorders… my understanding is that anorexia typically triggers your body to NOT get pregnant. You don’t have the calories or nutrients to support life so your body won’t allow it. Does this get addressed in the book at all? Or, perhaps I have incorrect information?

    Either way, it sounds like a powerful story. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it does. I don’t want to spoil anything but Hedda has some very big decisions to make at first and the book is very open about those. It also tackles how she herself must try to fight her anorexia in order to keep her baby alive. It’s such a powerful story and left me in floods of tears because of how open and honest it is. It’s certainly not a fairytale happy ending!

      Liked by 1 person

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