Rated 5 of 5 stars
Wow. This heartfelt debut by Zgheib is potent and jarring. I found myself engrossed in the small, claustrophobic world of 17 Swann Street. We follow Anna (and lovely Matthias) as they battle against anorexia. Anna develops anorexia over a the course of their relationship which gives Matthias much grief (for not noticing quick enough or not being more forceful) while Anna finds it slips into her life quietly and gradually. Anna is a smart, strong woman who has dreams but beneath that she has her insecurities rooted in being good enough, having the perfect life or body and she deals with bouts of loneliness and possibly depression. Anna is likable. As a reader, I had a need to protect her and her honor. She is proud, loving and wants so much out of life but is unsure how to get there without support. The story is told in a unique narration through weekly clinical evaluations, Anna’s current stay on Swann Street and then glimpses of her past when she was happier, lively and eating. You want Anna to win. You want the other girls to win and their struggles with eating will break your heart. In the beginning, you will probably say “Just eat something” and roll your eyes but as you continue on…you start to sympathize with the struggle. This is where Zgheib shines in her storytelling. She makes the readers understand that anorexia is just not starving oneself but instead is a mental struggle to see yourself differently, your image. I cried many times reading this book which shocked me as I am not particularly emotional by nature but as I ate my spaghetti or chocolate or ice cream while reading Anna’s struggle to eat anything other than an apple or popcorn…I felt a stirring. I enjoy food and Anna did once too. Readers who want to feel something will dive into this book and wade around the intense emotions. Grab a copy on February 5th (tomorrow).
Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended
*Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advanced reader softcopy.