Book Review: “The Girls at 17 Swann Street”

As far as mental health diagnoses go, I believe eating disorders are one of the most frequently misunderstood diseases. Because of these misconceptions, most books centered around eating disorders have a falsity to them. Enter Yara Zgheib’s novel: one of the best fictional depictions of what it’s actually like to live with an eating disorder. On a personal note, I have been in eating disorder treatment several times, and so I could relate a ton to the novel’s setting in a treatment center. Zgheib perfectly captures the many intricacies of treatment, including the terror and anxiety during mealtimes, the bonds formed between fellow patients, and the loneliness that comes when you’re trapped in your disorder (even if you’re surrounded by a dozen other girls). I found Zgheib’s main character completely relatable, and I appreciated the ‘patient notes’ included throughout the book that demonstrate just how deadly anorexia can be (extremely low weights, risks of organ failure, etc.). I won’t soon forget the connection I had with this novel. I wish people would read it so that they can understand the complexity of fighting back against an eating disorder. Food isn’t really your enemy – your own brain is.

5 stars

*Free ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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