Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 17
- Grade: 8 to 11
- Reading age: 13 to 18
She hadn’t told anyone. Not a single soul. Not one word about that night and what had been done to her had ever passed Maddy Malone’s lips. She’d thought about it at first - had been desperate, even frantic, to tell. But then had come the shame, and the intimidation from the boys who raped her - and the one who held her down. Now it’s the beginning of a new school year and Maddy is hoping that she can continue to hide, making herself as quiet and small as possible. She is consumed with keeping the memories at bay, forcing them down through small cuts and the burn from the end of a cigarette. But when her English class is given the assignment of writing a collaborative novel about a fifteen-year-old girl, The Pain Eater, fact and fiction begin to meet up. When the boys spread rumors about Maddy, she realizes that continuing to hide the truth will only give them more control, and she slowly gains the courage to confront them.
About the author
In high school Beth Goobie studied and taught piano, wrote stories, and was the recipient of academic and citizenship awards. She worked for a year as a nanny in Holland, then moved to Winnipeg where she studied English literature at the University of Winnipeg (receiving the gold medal) and religious studies at the Mennonite Brethren Bible College. She has worked for many years with physically and sexually abused children and is concerned with issues surrounding the anger and powerlessness of those under legal age. Addressing these issues in her writing, she has published several novels for young adults, including Born Ugly, Mission Impossible, The Lottery and Before Wings, as well as poems and short stories for an adult audience in anthologies and magazines such as Fiddlehead, Malahat Review and Quarry. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
- Short-listed, Sequoyah Book Award (High School), Oklahoma Library Association
- Short-listed, In the Margins Award Top Ten Fiction List
- Short-listed, White Pine Award
- Winner, Saskatchewan Book Awards Young Adult Literature Award
- Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens - Spring 2017
- Short-listed, Saskatchewan Book Awards Fiction Award
- Winner, High Plains Book Award - Young Adult
- Short-listed, Saskatchewan Book Awards Book of the Year Award
- Winner, Snow Willow Award
While Goobie has the ability to tear her characters and readers apart with harrowing events, she thankfully also has the considerable skill to build them back up again, offering hope and unique healing in a dark situation.
National Reading Campaign
Goobie beautifully orchestrates the evolution of Farang’s fictional tale with Maddy’s uneven healing process... Readers may note the parallels between Maddy’s story and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999). These excellent novels complement each other, as each realistically portrays the extended repercussions of sexual assault, as well as the healing power of art. [Starred Review]
The Pain Eater is one of the most powerful books within the reaches of my mental library. Goobie portrays the perspective of a victim in a realistic way, leaving readers thinking, “Hey, this could happen to anyone,” and compelling them to read the pages two or three times over to absorb all emotions depicted.
Although Goobie crafts an uplifting, hopeful ending, she does not provide a view of the world that is overly rosy... Despite the limitations of our imperfect world, the lessons in The Pain Eater can still be helpful for girls dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse. The book can also be instructive for teen boys who fail to comprehend the pain caused by sexual bullying and violence.
Quill & Quire
I was propelled through the novel by its emotional intensity. I desperately wanted to know what happened to Maddy.... Classic Goobie.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
This is just the kind of book young adults need... [The Pain Eater] will resonate with a great many readers because there are so many untold stories out there. One may even be in your home.
Powerfully written, this is not just a story about trauma, but also one of healing. [Starred Review]
...Goobie approaches the topic of rape with sensitivity and care. Her depiction of peer pressure, teenage angst, and bullying brings to light serious issues that fuel high school students' choices.... Surfacing an important problem that is too often overlooked, the author succeeds in making readers think deeply about the implications of malicious teenage actions and the suffering of victims.
School Library Journal
This novel is an exceptional narrative which addresses some very difficult issues including rape, gender stereotypes and cyberbullying... Beth Goobie has written an excellent novel which should be read by males and females alike because of its honest portrayal of important gender issues in today’s world.