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The Girls at 17 Swann Street #ourgoodlifebooklist

I was given this book to read in exchange for my honest review.

Publishing Date:  February, 2019

From the Publisher:

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life. 

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.
Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.
Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

I am one of those people who doesn't have any friends that have suffered from anorexia, and therefore had no basis for understanding what it is.  In this book, Anna becomes my friend, and I learn firsthand what it is like with this terrible disease.  Anna and the residents at 17 Swann Street allow me to see their pain through the eyes of a sufferer. I was there, I know what happened. 

Set in Missouri, I was intrigued by the thought that perhaps there is such a home here in my state. I would love to know but I believe there are rules against things like that. When I was going through treatment for breast cancer, I was showered with all kinds of support and love.  Some groups made throws, painted rocks, sent cards, and knit socks for our cold feet. Do the women in these centers have that kind of support? 

This book inspired me to look beyond the body, beyond the mental issues surrounding this disease, into the hearts, souls, and minds of the women with anorexia.  

As to the craft of the author, I am reminded of a dream-like, foggy background like in She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. In this case, we see the world through the mind of Anna, who because of her disease, has a cloudy memory. We have to dig to find out what is happening that is real.  I also was brought in by the author allowing the caregivers to show their pain as well. It was real and painful. 

Even though this is heavy stuff, I highly recommend this book.  I believe a book club could find lots of ways to discuss this book and get down to some real understanding of the life of a woman with anorexia.

If you like this review and wish to read this book, I would appreciate it if you would order it from here. I make a small commission which helps this blog stay open! Thanks!

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