The Girls at 17 Swann Street
by Yara Zgheib
Read: July 13 – July 15, 2019
Blurb: 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 into 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, who is 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.
Review: I picked this one up on a whim at my library. I was just browsing the shelf and this one caught my eye. I had seen it mentioned before online, but I was really drawn in by that cover (and the “Z” author certainly helped for my Goodreads challenges 🙂 )
This book is a heartbreaking tale. My stomach was just in knots most of the time. I suffered the same anxiety as the ladies did when it was their meal times. I was terrified for them and how they would make it through. It brought out such an emotional response from me that I was not prepared for.
This is not an easy read, but I feel like it’s an important read. I knew a girl in high school who sought treatment for anorexia. I don’t remember that she ever got that thin – I think her family caught it before it got too serious. But I remember not really understanding it at the time. This book really helped me to understand it better. I wish I had had a book like this all those years ago. It would have helped all of us understand what she was dealing with a little bit better.
Overall I highly recommend this book. It’s a tough read about a tough subject, but one that I think is necessary for us to better understand eating disorders and those suffering from them.