The Girls at 17 Swann Street, by Yara Zgheib

12 Feb
girls at 17 swann street yara zgheib

Four of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book, even if the anorexia aspect was not high level accurate.

It is a great low level book about a woman’s struggle with the disease. She is a likable character and you root for her to win and get better. This book should be read by those who want a well-written story about a former dancer and her desire to conquer her disease so she can save her marriage (and her life). It should be passed by if you’re looking for an accurate representation of the disease, its victims, or the recovery.

Let’s be clear, anorexia is not cured by sitting women down at a dining table and telling them they have to consume 3000 calories in a day. Yet all these women sit calmly if tearfully and just eat. I’m not entirely convinced that anorexics and bulimics should be seated together at meals either. Eating disorders are really, really rough diseases. Much like an addiction, the afflicted become very deceitful and lie about everything. The disease does not allow them to be trusted. But none of this is shown in this story. Anna weighs only 88 lbs when she is admitted to this voluntary center which is more like a halfway house than a place equipped to give the medical attention needed for someone who has reached this stage of the disease. It is not normal for a patient to be admitted at 88 lbs, immediately begin eating, and then be “cured” in a matter of weeks. I also wish we had seen Anna’s husband get needed counseling. Family members must fully understand what is going on and learn how to deal with their loved one so they can be more helpful with continued recovery at home.

So please don’t read this book to get real information about eating disorders. Read it for the well-written characters, and the outline of how the disease can take hold. Read it for the interesting story.

I know I listed a lot of complaints here, and well, let’s do one more: naming the main character Anna was like an anvil over the head and was unnecessarily obvious. But the writing is otherwise good, and I was sucked into the story. I felt for the characters, I rooted for them, and I didn’t put the book down until I was finished. For all my complaints, the book deserves the 4 stars I’m giving it.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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