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Yara Zgheib has delivered a compassionate portrayal of anorexia in her new novel The Girls at 17 Swann Street. I never considered the terrible demons that plague those who have suffered from this merciless disease. The fight with self starvation. The compulsive need to exercise. The arresting guilt from every bite of food and the ever present heckling of a distorted self image. Certainly, readers will find strength, courage and hope through the characters of Anna and Mathias. Zgheib has shared a serious portrayal based on personal experience that is certain to resonate with readers who need this story the most, joining the ranks of must read contemporary lit for many women and girls. — Nancy Scheemaker
Anorexia is not a choice, it’s an all encompassing mental illness. When someone with anorexia speaks to you, it’s not them, but their disease speaking to you. This novel will open your eyes, and give you an understanding and an insight that only those with experience of the disease can give you. It’s written with the most beautiful voice, and in such a unique way, that you’ll fall in love with it as I did. It’s an important book, in that it opens the discussion into anorexia itself, and shines a light into it’s dark corners, but it is also a rich and enjoyable novel in its own right. Read this book, love it, and give it to everyone you hold dear, as it is a book to be treasured and demands to be shared. — Becky Doherty
Anna arrived at 17 Swann Street as her last resort. Faced with an eating disorder, she meets other woman with similar illnesses and who, like Anna, are working towards their recoveries. This story is powerful and at times heartbreaking. Beautifully written and full of determination, strength, and honesty, this is a must-read by a very talented author. — Suzanne Rice
An intimate portrayal of a young woman and her relationship with her body as her eating disorder takes over the life she used to love. Written beautifully in a poetic light, Zgheib's debut novel creates mass amounts of hope and determination, all while reaffirming the power of positive human relationships.— Laura Knapp
While Anna and the girls accompanying her at 17 Swann Street are at battle with their bodies and their eating disorders, they are just as much at war with their minds. Though Anna struggled to swallow every bite of her meals, I devoured this book in one sitting. A powerful and poetic portrayal of a woman struggling against herself that will resonate with all. — Hanna Yost
“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.
"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