The Girls At 17 Swann Street: A Novel by Yara ZgheibThe Girls At 17 Swann Street: A Novel by Yara Zgheib

The Girls At 17 Swann Street: A Novel

byYara Zgheib

Hardcover | February 5, 2019

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*A BookMovement Group Read*

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.

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...
Title:The Girls At 17 Swann Street: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.63 × 6.24 × 1.31 inPublished:February 5, 2019Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250202442

ISBN - 13:9781250202444

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heart wrenching beautiful story Many thanks to NetGalley, St Martin’s Press, and Yara Zgheib for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy. Rating 4.5 stars. The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a heart-wrenching, punch-in-the-gut, story about a young woman with anorexia. Zgheib gives an honest, raw account of the struggles that women with an eating disorder face while trying to battle this disease. This is not the first that I have read on this subject matter, as I studied and wrote about it during my academic years, but this story had a huge impact on me. I found it so effective that Zgheib chose to do it through fiction, crafting a story that looks behind the curtain, at the core of this sickness, destroying the myths that surround it, the highs and lows, and the different manifestations of the disease, the toll it takes on their bodies, their family members, and the different outcomes that may come to pass. This is an up close and personal story of Anna, as she faces her demons, trying to get well. When we meet Anna she is 88 pounds and after passing out and being in the hospital has decided to voluntarily check herself into a home that helps women with eating disorders. There are strict rules that she must follow, with consequences if she doesn’t. For example, she must eat all of the required food, in an allotted amount of time. After three refusals you get the feeding tube (which is horrific - yuch!). Now it might not seem difficult for you or I, to eat a bagel and cream cheese within 30 minutes, but to someone who is sick, the battle of trying to force it down is real. And they have to eat 3 times a day and two snacks. To hear what goes on inside a person’s head was excruciating. At some point, they all break down and can’t do it. What’s interesting is that she would say I am a vegetarian, I don’t eat dairy, just give me a substitute and I didn’t really understand why they didn’t accommodate her. I was with Anna, I thought the nutritionist was a horrible person. If she wanted vegetarian, why force her? But as you go along the journey, you begin to understand that none of it was true and that Anna actually LOVED bagels and cream cheese. It was the disease talking, not Anna. With flashback scenes, we get to hear Anna’s story and how she got to arrive at 17 Swann Street. We meet all kinds of girls at the home, some bulimic, some repeat customers so to speak. One girl had been going to Swann Street for four years. All heartbreaking stories of different manifestations of this disease. Some don’t make it. But the love and support that the girls give to each other was incredible. You begin to understand how they need the routine. Anna knows she is lucky because she has a family and husband who love her, who give her a reason to get better. Anna begins to realize how this has impacted all of them, how she withdrew from life, how incredibly strong you have to be to overcome and what it will take to get better. Will Anna make it? We hope so. Unlike an alcoholic, who can simply remove alcohol from their life, food is constant and you need to eat to live. It is something you have to deal with every day. I loved this story. It reaches inside you and touches your heart. You can’t help but root for these girls. This is one story you won’t want to miss.
Date published: 2019-02-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from poignant debut The Girls at 17 Swann Street is Yara Zgheib's debut novel that portrays a poetic and poignant battle with mental illness and eating disorders. This book is beautifully written, with fascinating subject matter that certainly kept me engaged in the protagonist's journey in a residential treatment facility for women with eating disorders. While I enjoyed this book, I felt that it very much glossed over anorexia nervosa and that the protagonist was not a realistic depiction of a person with the disease. It is very stereotypical for her to be a ballerina, and we were never given much insight into her earlier traumas. I also felt that her husband's constant support for her was unrealistic, and their relationship did not really change during her treatment. Anna's focus was very much on getting better for her husband, which did not entirely seem healthy to me. While the supporting case of characters were interesting, I found that they were not developed to their full potential. This is a work of fiction and very much a shiny one at that; I would have preferred a grittier picture. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for review.
Date published: 2019-01-23

Editorial Reviews

" 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