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This novel about a young wife's stay at a small residential treatment center for eating disorders, stunned me into complete absorption, the same way as reading "The Bell Jar" once did. The story moves back and forth between Anna's previous life as a ballerina, and her current situation, told in dialogue both spoken and internal. Every hour of each patient's day is monitored and accounted for with calorie counted meals, therapy sessions, and the occasional family visit, class, or outing. Not finishing any meal (including all of the salad dressing and all of the cream cheese that comes with the bagel) sentences an inmate to a feeding tube. Anna's fellow patients Valerie, Julia, Emm, and Sarah are well drawn characters who represent an unfortunate reality--most will relapse, and many even die from anorexia, as their families fail to see it and struggle to understand it. Not only is this an accomplished first novel, it is likely to become recommended reading for families affected by anorexia and bulimia.
— From Carla's Picks
“Through first-person narration, Yara Zgheib does a masterful job of presenting Anna, a young woman who has gradually spiraled into anorexia. So vivid are Anna’s guilt and physical revulsion toward food that I was absolutely shaken. The other characters are equally well-developed. Anna’s husband, Mathias, is loving and supportive but not immune to feelings of fear, frustration, and anger. Insights into the other residents and staff at 17 Swann Street provide a compelling context within which we experience Anna’s excruciating struggle toward recovery. This is a very readable yet sobering reminder that eating disorders remain a serious problem in our image-conscious society and that anyone is potentially vulnerable.”
— Samantha Flynn, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
*A BookMovement Group Read*
**A People Pick for Best New Books**
Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.
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.
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.
Yara is a reader, writer, traveler, yogi, lover of art, wine, black and white photographs, popcorn, and jazz. She was born in Lebanon and has pieces of her heart scattered over Paris, Beirut, London, Boston, and a few villages in Tuscany.
She is the author of The Girls at 17 Swann Street and writes weekly on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog: The non-Utilitarian. Her essays are prose, poetry, musings, on things neither practical nor useful, but true and beautiful. Essential.
Her writing has also appeared in The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, HOLIDAY Magazine, The European, Womanscape, HOME Magazine, The Idea List, France Forward, Espresso Economics, A Woman’s Paris, The Socio/Log, and others.
"A singular celebration of the lifesaving power of community and small gestures." - The New York Times Book Review
"This absorbing page-turner illuminates the raw courage of people who, struggling for their lives, somehow find the strength to support those around them." - People Magazine, February 2019 People Picks
"One of the most emotional and affecting books you'll read all year...it holds nothing back." - Hello Giggles
24 Fiction Books Coming Out In February That You Definitely Need To Read - Bustle
"...an impressive, deeply moving debut. " - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Zgheib's lyrical, dream-like style will resonate with fans of Wally Lamb's and Anne Tyler's novels and Augusten Burroughs' memoirs." - Booklist
"Moving . . a nuanced portrait of a woman struggling against herself." - Kirkus
“One of the best books I’ve read. Powerful and poignant...” - Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of I Regret Nothing
"Grabbed me from the first page. If you are interested in compelling characters and/or complex issues, this is a must read." - Lisa Gardner, New York Times Bestselling author
"Heartbreaking and beautiful . . . a brave book, stark in its realism, yet tempered by its lyrical prose." - Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Daughter
"Heart-wrenching and beautiful . . . a must read." - Erica Bauermeister, national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients
"Written with spare, poetic grace, The Girls at 17 Swann Street is engaging, tragic and ultimately hopeful. It opened my eyes as well as my heart." - Susan Crandall, national bestselling author of The Myth of Perpetual Summer