Rachel Bussel's Reviews > Insatiable: A Young Mother's Struggle with Anorexia

Insatiable by Erica Rivera
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Mar 12, 10

bookshelves: memoirs

Insatiable is not, like any memoir about an eating disorder, an easy read. There are binges and paeans to suicide and disturbing moments when Rivera leaves her two sleeping toddlers to go for a run. I found the chapters in which Rivera plans to commit suicide the most compelling, and they most starkly show the depths to which Rivera sank over the course of her eating disorder.

Yes, there are dramatic, detailed descriptions of food here and what Rivera did with it, everything from amassing it to hiding it to chewing and spitting it. In one scene, her daughter's keen sense of smell sniffs out the binge Rivera is sneaking. In many ways, this is telling, in that Rivera is able to hide her affliction from many around her, including her parents (despite a teenage eating disorder episode), but her daughters bluntly call her on her issues. Rivera, to her credit, does not gloss over these moments, or the ones where she ignores her daughters to focus on Ana and BB (anorexia and Binge B---h, as she calls them). By personifying her eating disorder, she helps make it relatable.

Rivera doesn't necessarily get into where her eating disorder came from, though she touches on the instability of her childhood; instead she focuses on the damage her eating disorder did to her thinking, her body and those around her, including men she dates after her divorce. It's to her credit as a writer that some of the most beautifully written scenes are the most unnerving. Other reviewers have pointed out that Rivera was self-involved; indeed, that seems to me the very point of this memoir, that food, above all else, was what ruled her (well, food combined with body image). Even when doctors questioned her motives, she resisted, enthralled by her affair with Ana.

I've read many eating disorder memoirs and while, to a degree, they all echo each other, due to the nature of the subject matter, Rivera's stands out both in covering the children and family life, and the nuance of the writing. While extreme, Rivera's body dysmorphia will also, sadly, be familiar to many women.
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