The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yaya Zgheib
Published February 5th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
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.
Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. 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.
When I recieved an ARC of The Girls at 17 Swann Street from the publisher, I honestly didn’t have any idea what genre this book belonged to. I would call it contemporary fiction, which is a genre I usually don’t enjoy, but I really enjoyed this book. This book follows Anna, a Parisian girl in her mid-20s, a professional dancer, suffering from an eating disorder and finally is forced to seek treatment. I haven’t read many books about eating disorders or mental illness as I usually avoid them, as it takes a very special author to write fiction in this area accurately. The author did a great job in this book writing about a fairly complex illness, along with the treatment center and the patients themselves. A very well written story about a very complex mental illness.
Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for sending me an ARC of this book.