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I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that if it's bad, I'll say so, regardless of how I received the book.The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 5, 2019
Source: Net Galley
Buy on Book Depository
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib is a difficult story written with beautiful words.
I call it the Van Gogh bedroom. Just a different color scheme. Hazy peach blanket, hazy peach walls. Pastel green carpet on a cherry wood floor. White blinds and shutters, the window and closet creak. Everything is pale and faded, a little like me.
See, even from the opening sentences it is beautiful. However, it’s the most real story of anorexia that I have read. Spoiler: there’s a happy ending but no cure.
Backtracking to who calls it the Van Gogh bedroom. It’s Anna Roux, a French ballerina who’s madly in love with her husband. Then an injury stops her dancing for a while. Her husband accepts a job in America. She tries working as a dancer in Missouri but the troupes are already full. Alone in the home, Anna slips into a thought spiral of her (perceived) imperfections, failures, and loneliness. By the time she’s wasted to only 88 pounds, she’s diagnosed with anorexia and admitted to 17 Swann Street.
While it’s Anna’s story (her current and her past which lead to her illness), it’s also the story of the other women in the center. Emm is the unofficial leader of the patients, who has been in an out of in-patient care for most of her life. Julia compulsively eats. And there are others. We watch them become a little family of sorts, supporting each other through six carefully monitored meals a day.
It’s probably safe to assume but The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a huge trigger for people with eating disorders and mental illness. It’s also a huge lesson for the experiences of people with anorexia and the treatments. I appreciate (same spoiler as before) that there’s no riding off in the sunset eating a five-course dinner. Anna gets the best ending she could.
Yes, I ugly cried reading this. Even with that, I recommend you read The Girls at 17 Swann Street.