*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.
In her powerful debut, Zgheib masterfully chronicles the pain of an anorexic's distorted thinking and intense fear of food in a riveting diarylike structure. Plucked from Paris to St. Louis, former dancer Anna Aubry Roux is 26 years old, married, and in the fight of her life with a severe eating disorder. After fainting in the bathroom and being discovered by her husband, Anna is sent to a residential treatment facility. She is still in denial about her condition, even as she drops to 88 pounds. As she bonds with the other women, including former Olympian hopeful Emm and tortured Ivy League grad Valerie, Anna sees herself in them, and they in her; indeed, it is the residents who show Anna how much she has to live for. Anna's fits and starts toward recovery are realistically and poignantly depicted. The author also adroitly shows how past traumas (for Anna, her brother's death in a car accident and her mother's death by suicide) can manifest in a relentless need for control. This is an impressive, deeply moving debut. 100,000-copy announced first printing.