"The Girls at 17 Swann Street"

“The Girls at 17 Swann Street,” by Yara Zgheib, is an incredibly beautiful and gripping story about a young woman trying to live with anorexia.

The story begins with Anna starting her new life in the halls of 17 Swann Street: a home for girls rehabbing from eating disorders. Anna struggles with seemingly everything in her new home, from the therapy sessions to meals.

To Anna, eating a bagel with cream cheese is as difficult as climbing a mountain, maybe even more so. The only way Anna is able to successfully make it through her first meal, and day, is with support from fellow patients. Emm has been living at 17 Swann Street for four years and becomes a close friend to Anna, as does Valerie.

Julia, another patient, is a bubbly, loveable girl. She has bulimia, and tries to lift Anna’s spirits, occasionally offering her candy. Julia often provides a much needed light in the shadows of the girls’ disorders.

And then there’s Mattias—Anna’s loving husband. I admire how much he tries to lift Anna’s spirits and how deeply he loves her. He helps Anna reconnect with her father.

A big part of Anna’s problems stemmed from Mattias being from Paris. Not long before Swann Street, Anna and Mattias had a perfect life there as newly marrieds, enjoying delicious French food. Then Mattias got an amazing job in St. Louis, and they moved to the States.

After Anna reaches the States, her dreams of pursuing ballet fly away, and things progress dismally. It’s horribly sad to see things happen to Anna that drive her to her breaking point.

“17 Swann Street” makes you realize that no matter your status in life, whether you’re happy or sad, eating disorders do not discriminate, and I love how Yara conveyed that point with Anna.

This story is just so raw; I loved the depth of the characters, and the glimpse you get into the mind of someone with an eating disorder. Yara was able to show Anna’s struggles with depression and how it consequently affected her life. This book isn’t for the lighthearted, since some parts are very sad (cry worthy) and deal with difficult topics, but it was an amazingly deep book.