The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Published: February 5, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genres: literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Recommend to fans of: books about eating disorders and mental health, strong women struggling with difficult things
Foodie Vibes: the meal plan set forth by the eating disorder treatment team – designed for weight gain and food challenges
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.
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Yara Zgheib for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.
- Good representation: adults of various ages and stages in life are shown, not just the stereotypical upper middle class teenage girl
- Each couple of days is punctuated by the staff’s treatment plan update: physiological observations, psychological observations, summary, target calories, meal plans
- Not a fluffy feel good book, but the realistic ups and downs of getting help for an eating disorder
- The details that go into the world building – In reality it’s only an eating disorder treatment house, but the author makes it seem like a whole different world
- The main character: Anna – kind, relatable, vulnerable, courageous
- The concept and daily life is oddly fascinating — weird?, I know
- The relationship between Anna and her husband, Matthias
- Beautifully written
- That so many of the characters are missing out on life.
- Emm: one of the long term patients. It doesn’t seem realistic that she could be at the treatment center for years. Also she didn’t seem to add much to the story, except as one of the many cautionary tales.
- There was more about the psychological aspects of eating disorder treatment such as group therapy, individual therapy, etc.
Overall, a beautifully written book about the brave struggles of a woman working to survive and eating disorder. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something absolutely captivating about this story.
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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)