Good Morning Thursday! Hope all we book lovers are doing well and enjoying a very good book right now.
Our striving to be thin has become an obsession. We indulge in costly diet plans, spend hours exercising, cut our food intake, all because the image of success and beauty is a thin body. If you are a dancer, a figure skater, a gymnast, or any other athlete, weight is the foremost idea in you mind. Don’t gain an ounce, don’t get any taller, don’t grow and most of all don’t eat. In this book, The Girls At Swann Street, we are taken into the life of a young woman, Anna Roux, as she and others battle the disease known as anorexia. They live together at 17 Swan Street where everything is monitored all in the hopes that they will somehow rediscover the world of eating. Anna is married and is loved by her husband, but he is at his wits ends as he watches the woman he loves disappear before his eyes.
Anna had been a dancer studying ballet in Paris. She was totally focused on dance and of course staying thin is ever so critical if one wants to dance. Perhaps if she weighed less she could jump higher, spin faster, be someone special, something meaningful, something she doesn’t hate when she looks in the mirror. She and her husband move to America, and Anna’s life and her own self begin that spin into decline and possible death.
Anna, eats less and less and her weight in a 5’4″ body drops to a precarious 88 pounds. She is dying from the inside out. She is admitted to Swan Street in the hopes that this program will save her. Her husband is her ally, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. She discovers the girls who with her, are suffering from the same inability to place food into their mouth. They have lost the joy of eating, and have lost the joy of living. Will this program save Anna and the other girls, or will they succumb to the ravages of anorexia?
This compelling story comes at the reader like a train rambling along a track that is filled with anguish and sadness. This is a story that many know, that many find themselves in, that many will die from. I heartily recommend this book to all and feel that you will be enhanced and informed by Anna’s story.
As an aside, my oldest daughter was a competitive ice skater for eight years. I know, first hand how coaches would frown if weight was gained. They would be upset if a growth spurt set in for that would throw off a child’s balance. They would try to control the life of a child to further their own ambitions to maybe someday be the coach of a winner. My daughter’s ballet teacher would scream at parents waiting for their children that the parents were too fat. At that time, I weighed 110 pounds. I couldn’t even, though I was an adult, get that thought out of my mind. Was I indeed too fat?
It’s insidious. It comes upon you, wrecks your mind as you constantly think and live weight.
Is it all worth it?
I watched and interacted with the children, the ballerinas at Lincoln Center. What they ate and placed on their lunch trays was pitiful, all in that attempt to be thin.
Watch the TV, look at magazines, listen to jokes, we worship thinness. We look to normal people as if they are obese, and we fat shame those who have weight issues. This is who we are so is Anna and the other girls’s stories so hard to understand?
Thank you to Yara Zgheib, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this moving story.
This book is due to be published on February 5, 2019
and here’s the author:
Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy from Centre D’études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Yara is a writer for several US and European magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman’s Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, “Aristotle at Afternoon Tea