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Andrea's Voice: Silenced by Bulimia: Her Story and Her Mother's Journey Through Grief Toward Understanding

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Vibrant, talented, strong, and beautiful, Andrea Smeltzer seemed destined for a great future. But after a one-year struggle with bulimia, she died in her sleep at age 19, catapulting her mother Doris into a wrenching but ultimately rewarding journey of discovery. This unabashed account not only speaks about one family’s tragedy, but also critiques the social and personal attitudes toward our bodies and appearance that create victims like Andrea. Andrea's poetry and journal entries, combined with her mother's reflections, offer insight and understanding about a crushing disorder that afflicts far too many young people.

304 pages, Paperback

First published May 15, 2006

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5 stars
62 (36%)
4 stars
57 (33%)
3 stars
34 (20%)
2 stars
9 (5%)
1 star
7 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Sommer.
50 reviews22 followers
May 10, 2010
I finished this book in one sitting. In fact, I read until nearly 4am. It is a tragic story of a mother's loss. It is written with grace, hope, honesty and intellect. If someone you care about is struggling with disordered eating, get this book for them and read it yourselves. There is a lot of insight into the mental anguish caused by this unfortunate and misunderstood disorder. Throughout the story, the author blends her daughter's poetry, journal entries, and letters home to help the reader fully grasp the spirit of her child. Prepare to cry. Also, an important read for those wanting to work with individuals suffering from bulmia.
Profile Image for Kiersten.
102 reviews
June 12, 2008
Amazing. Earth shattering. From the voice of a girl who succumbed to bulimia at a young age and after a brief time with the illness. She was on the road to healing and passed in her sleep, hoping for a better life. This book was put together by her parents-her mother and father both very strong humans and unfortunately more of the norm these days as many more women and men are taken by this devastating illness. Though no book is going to make any one sufferer "open their eyes" enough, this is a book I keep on my nightstand and flip through on occasion. Andrea's voice and life was not in vain.
Profile Image for Sara.
751 reviews4 followers
April 2, 2010
This book is painful, honest, thoughtful, distressing, inspiring, wonderful. I admire Doris and her family so much for being willing to be so transparent and vulnerable in writing this book. It has made me much more aware of my own thoughts about myself that seem safe enough but that plant terrible seeds in my own mind and those around me. If your life has been touched by disordered eating or someone suffering from an eating disorder, this book will touch your heart deeply. Just one family's story, very unique to them, but I found easy to become involved in and relatable.
Profile Image for Laura Buechler.
366 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2011
Great book. Doris uses excerpts from her daughter's diary along with her own writings and recollections to recount Andrea's last year of life and her tragic death from bulimia. She doesn't shy away from reflecting on her own role in Andrea's illness, and provides an excellent list of resources for concerned parents.
78 reviews21 followers
September 4, 2008
The book that finally made me realize that eating disorders can kill ANYONE, regardless of weight, duration of behaviors, etc. It's also a touching story told through the eyes of both mother and daughter. I found no triggers (no numbers!!!). Warning; a very emotional read.
Profile Image for Lenny Husen.
918 reviews19 followers
June 22, 2021
4.5, rounding up because every person who is suffering from an Eating Disorder (ED), or has suffered from an ED in the past, or loves someone with an ED, should read this book.
I honestly did not think of Bulimia as a fatal disease previously.
Doris' grief is so authentic and expressed with such wisdom and depth, that I found my rating of this book increasing as I approached the end.
This is the story of the sudden and unexpected death of Andrea at age 19, the events leading up to it and the aftermath. Andrea's voice is heard in the form of journal entries and poems she wrote in her short life. She was a talented and vibrant young woman who did not believe she would die of her illness.

I read the list of Risk Factors and Possible Characteristics typical of a person who develops an ED, and all the Characteristics applied to me as a teenager. I did have an ED, which caused me immense pain, but wasn't Bulimia or Anorexia. I feel grateful that my ED wasn't a fatal one, and that I recovered from it.
I am grateful that my own daughter never developed an ED as my example of constantly criticizing my own body inwardly and out loud, could have triggered one in her.

This is a highly valuable book in the field of Size Acceptance.
Profile Image for Julie.
482 reviews3 followers
April 8, 2019
A daunting memory to her daughter. While I was not a fan of the writing, it did challenge views on parenting skills.
Profile Image for Gel.
176 reviews2 followers
May 21, 2020
Very challenging to read (because of sad content), but enlightening, especially for anyone who knows someone with an eating disorder.
Profile Image for T. Greenwood.
Author 24 books1,679 followers
February 2, 2009
I always find it difficult to evaluate non-fiction. I don't read a lot of it, unless it's research for my own work. This book was honest, forthright, contemplative, and ultimately helpful to me as a writer. I imagine that it would also be of significant help to other mothers suffering the loss of a child to an eating disorder. Doris Smeltzer's mission is clear, and this book goes a long way to challenging taboos and alleviating the stigma of this illness. It is also a stellar rumination on the grieving process.
Profile Image for Erica.
721 reviews199 followers
May 12, 2017
So sad! Reminded me a bit of me and mom and what I was going through the last couple of years. I wish the author had been a bit more explicit with details of her daughter's eating disorder. She was so vague! I understand that she didn't want this story to be triggering for others, but it was hard to relate to because we knew so little about Andrea's situation.
Profile Image for Angela.
83 reviews17 followers
February 15, 2016
I actually had to read this for a class I am taking and ended up being completely caught up in it. It completely pulled at my heartstrings the entire time I was reading.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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