By: Yara Zgheib
Published Year: 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
Yara Zgheib's poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman's struggle to reclaim her life. 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.
The cover doesn’t do much for me but the summary grabbed my attention. I am (was?) a dancer so anything that involves dancers will always get a look from me.
What I thought
This was such an interesting read and I wish that I had read it as a book club read because I want to discuss this with other people.
Anna has been admitted to 17 Swann Street, a recovery home for women with eating disorders. Anna’s husband Matthias admitted her after he found her passed out in their bathroom. Anna used to be a dancer until she got injured. She and Matthias moved from France to Saint Louis for a job, and that it when her eating disorder really started to take a hold.
The chapters alternate between Anna’s life at 17 Swann Street, her health reports, and her life before anorexia took hold. The interesting, and slightly irritating thing about this book is the unique formatting. The paragraphs are double spaced (similar to the formatting of my blog) and there are no quotation marks. Instead, spoken words are italicized. But this is still a little confusing because the past chapters are all italicized. I liked that the italics made it seem as though the whole book was told from the inside Anna’s head. It gave it a more intimate feel for sure. However, it also made it difficult at times to follow who was speaking.
I haven’t read many books about eating disorders, but I felt that this one handled it wonderfully. It was honest and gave insight in a way that I haven’t read before. There were a lot of ups and downs and I liked the balance of Anna’s present struggles with her past ones. I did expect to see her work through a few more of her issues than she did, but I still enjoyed following her progress.
I also enjoyed the dynamics of all of the girls in 17 Swann Street. To see the way that eating disorders impacts a variety of lives in a variety of ways was insightful. I think that discussing the factors that caused each girl’s life to take the path that it did would be interesting. I will definitely have to pass this book on to some of my friends so we can discuss it.