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Review: The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

March 13, 2019
The Girls at 17 Swann Street, Yara Zgheib, InToriLex, Book Review
Published By: St Martin's Press on February 5, 2019
Format Read: ARC Edition (413 pages)
Genre: Contemporary/ Mental Health/ Adult Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Source: From Publisher for Review Consideration
Rating: FIVE STARS
The Girls at 17 Swann Street~Amazon~ 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.

VERDICT:

Content Warning: Mental Illness, Rape, Eating Disorders, Suicide

REVIEW:

This is not an easy story, but it is beautifully told and brutally honest. It follows Anna as she confronts her anorexia and seeks treatment. Her thought's, actions and memories are all sewn together to describe how she tries to mend the relationships in her life and challenge her disordered thoughts. An engrossing page turner I managed to fly through this in one day. The way the author describes the women at the treatment facility with Anna made me more invested in whether the women would succeed or succumb to their illnesses. The use of Anna's doctor's notes in the novel helped me understand how dire Anna's health was all while she internally struggled to understand the danger.
I am not anorexic, I am out of control. I know it but I cannot stop. I am a child in a body that grew up too soon , found adulthood and real life a scam and now is trying to lose enough weight to lift off the ground, fly away.
Throughout the novel Anna must navigate why she developed a eating disorder and confront traumatic events she has tried to suppress for years. This book describes the eating disorders compassionately and with sensitivity. The camaraderie in the treatment facility was astonishing because most of these women very defensive and vulnerable. The serious topics and  traumatic experiences were hard to digest but shed light on important issues our society glazes over.

The plot flowed seamlessly between flashbacks and dialogue. I really enjoyed how authentic this fictional account read. The awful media messages women receive about how to constantly make themselves better contribute to body dysmorphia and low self-esteem. I would recommend this to reader's who want more insight about how women deal with eating disorders.

Recommended for Readers who
- enjoy reading contemporaries on serious topics
- appreciate poetic descriptions
- want to learn more about women who face eating disorders

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yara Zgheib
Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy from Centre D'études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Yara is a writer for several US and European magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman’s Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, "Aristotle at Afternoon Tea"

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