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Elena Vanishing

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  3,077 ratings  ·  393 reviews
Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia.

Told entirely from Elena's perspective over a five-year period and co-written with her mother,
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Chronicle Books
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Olivia Towers I read the book, and if your daughter has body image issues, I would not recommend it. It's a wonderful story, though.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  3,077 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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An Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review.

Starting this one, I knew I was going to have trouble getting into the mind-set. Not only is this story real since it's a memoir, what she goes through is what happened in her life. Her thoughts are real. That made a big difference when I was reading it.

Elena feels like she has lost control over her life, and the one thing she believes she can do is to control what she eats. Everything has to be perfect. Being told she's beautiful
Sally Lotz
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Amazing story. I am always looking for inspiring and insightful biographies and autobiographies. "Elena Vanishing" had me intrigued because of the topic, Elena's eating disorder. I have never understood, how anyone could starve themselves or binge and purge. None of this has ever made sense to me. Elena takes the reader right into the mind of a young seemingly successful woman. We see the world from her viewpoint, and it had me scared. Her level of self hatred and the extreme of perfection was e ...more
Jen from Quebec :0)
Awesomely powerful, well-written memoir about the horrors of anorexia, hospitalization, family drama, mental illness and more. I have a LOT to say about this book: (1) I have stayed up allllll night to finish the Audible version of this novel (2) The narrator was excellent (3) I cannot write anything more until I get some frigging COFFEE. --Jen from Quebec :0)
Julia Sapphire
Jul 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mental-illness, 2016
Trigger Warnings: Eating Disorders, Self Harm, and Rape

“Where does thin become fat? Where does success become failure? Where does a great future become a horrible past full of heartache and regret?”

I personally read novels involving mental illness quite often. Though I have never really read books involving eating disorders. In Identical by Ellen Hopkins there is an eating disorder element but it was not the main focus. Those who are wondering this is a memory of Elena Dunkle who is
Sage Looram
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Elena, a seventeen year old girl who has a voice in her head that tells her what to do in order to be perfect. Put on makeup. Have good grades. Work at least two jobs. And never, ever eat. “No one likes you, you are fat, you are obese.” This is the voice in her head, and it controls her. Elena has to go from hospital to hospital, trying to fight her conscience. This book was amazing. It teaches a strong lesson, and is very powerful. One of the reasons I loved this book is because it is non ficti ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
**I originally reviewed this novel for Reading Teen and you can visit their blog as well.

Release Date: May 19, 2015

It seems almost impossible to describe the voice in your head when you have an Eating Disorder. The voice is disembodied, but it seems more tangible than a book in your hands or the food sitting on a plate in front of you. That voice fills up the space in your mind and takes away the silence and peace that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. It tells you all of the things you hate mo
Olivia Bailey
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I go back and forth between liking it and disliking it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is a very good book, it isn’t the writing of it, or the vocabulary, nor the characters, it is more just that they topic is a very hard and real situation to put myself into and is a topic that I have heard of but I am very foreign to it and unfamiliar to it. Honestly, Elena makes me think that anorexia is a mental and physical sickness which I’m not sure about because ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading memoirs but this one felt like a quilt sewn from jagged pieces. The writer is Elena's mom who took all her daughter's memories of her struggles with anorexia and pieced them together- except it wasn't a smooth enough story.
But still - this book is a valuable window into the mind of one suffering from anorexia. Elena's daily struggles and inner voice were harsh & terrifying to read. I cried several times at the end. What a messy life we live! "Life is love. Life, in all its suffe
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was so great and definitely for fans of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

The message of the book will stay with me forever. Unfortunately, it took me months to read because the narrator is so vain it hurts. The last half is so good though that it makes the struggle of reading the first bit worth it.

May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really good and realistic portrait of life with an eating disorder. It doesn't sugar coat anything and it paints things in an authentic light.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Extraordinarily powerful, wrenching, raw, and graphic memoir of trauma, bulimia, self-harm, and anorexia. Literally every new page brought a worse horror. It's amazingly detailed in its description of every painful experience a female can endure. A brilliant book.
Jenni Frencham
Dunkle, Elena. Elena Vanishing. Chronicle Books, 2015.

Elena is a teen who is suffering from anorexia, although she wouldn't tell you she is suffering. She is battling the number on the scale and attaining perfection through control of her food. This is Elena's story, told in Elena's voice as she recalls her ongoing struggle against an eating disorder.

This isn't an easy book to read, but it's a timely one, and the fact that the author is also a teen/new adult will make this book appeal to a teen
Ms. Yingling
Not really an eating disorder memoir for middle grades, since there is a rape as well as a miscarriage. The writer struggled with a number of issues along with the anorexia. What struck me was how supportive the parents were, and how troubled both of their daughters were even though they seemed to be handling everything the way they were supposed to. Not every difficulty is the fault of bad parenting.
caroline gao
Jun 02, 2020 marked it as dnf
haha tw

ok maybe i’m just (nOt iN thE riGhT hEaDspAce) to actually finish an ed book but this one just. is not sitting right. i don’t want to comment on the factually of a memoir because clearly everyones experiences can be different but this just sounded So Fake. like a group of people don’t clap when someone leaves after a 72. you don’t leave an ed kid already in treatment during a meal muLtiple different times. i’m sorry but this reads like someone trying really hard to make sure the reader kn
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book because someone close to me is currently in treatment for anorexia, and I was told that Elena's experiences as portrayed in this book match well with her experience.

This book helped me to get an inkling of insight into the mind of someone fighting anorexia. The anorexic state of mind is foreign to my natural thinking because, like many people, I like food. Elena exhibits a mental state in which food is seen as a frightening threat to her well being. This fear of food is so stro
In a perfect world, I would have read Elena Vanishing back-to-back with Hope and Other Luxuries. Because this isn't a perfect world (and my holds at the library were filled a week or two apart), I read this one first and didn't get to compare them directly.

It makes for an interesting comparison, though, reading Elena Dunkle's story and also her mother's version of events. Clare Dunkle had a significant hand in this book as well. Says Elena:
But I couldn't write this book on my own. Saying the wor
Jaden Farley
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
3.5 stars.
I feel like a crappy person for rating this book less than four stars because it's a real person that went through all this hard stuff. It just didn't evoke much emotion from me. Maybe it means I'm heartless, but I think part of it was the writing style. It felt sort of dry, and it made Elena come off as judgemental and selfish. I didfeel bad for Elena, but (this is going to sound really bad) I've felt worse for fictional characters. Ah man, im running myself into a hole for saying th
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't love this book, but it has successfully built up my confidence with reading nonfiction books. *cheers* I think I'm beginning to understand what's cool about nonfiction books. they're real, true, and honest. as much as I hate to say it, fiction is only as real as our imaginations. though I'm proud that I challenged myself by reading this book, I wish that I would have liked it more. I didn't care for the overall voice of the story, and how so much of it revolved around hospitals. but tha ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ya
This is a super-horrifying look at what it's really like to live with Anorexia. Elena's inner-critic is relentless and terrible. The best part about this book is how real it is. There's no sugar-coating and no silver linings - it's just a horrible disorder creating awful situations and experiences. There is hope in the end for Elena, but she meets several people along the way whose eating disorders end up being fatal. As you ride along with Elena, you can see how she would come across if you did ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
A good, but not great book about a young woman's struggle with anorexia, what Elena Vanishing does very well is show how trauma and rape can change someone's world to its core, and the course if a life in general. In many ways, Elena's story is extremely textbook- perfectionist, from a dysfunctional and wealthy family, obsessive compulsive, a traumatic rape survivor, a girl who attends a boarding school where she is surrounded by other girls with eating disorders, manipulative, and more than onc ...more
Lauren Hopkins
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I like when books like this are told from the perspective of the person as they're suffering, not looking back. But it felt like a lot of this was too clinical and not in the author's own words, so I wasn't surprised to see her mom -- an authors -- basically wrote it for her which is weird. It's not super distracting but there are definitely moments that don't sound like they're genuine. That, and the book didn't really have a're kind of tossed into things and while it's not real ...more
Sigh. Replace review that has vanished.
Miriam Rose
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This woman is so strong and brave for sharing her story. I loved every heartwrenching moment of Elena's journey. I felt like I was a part of. I strongly recommend this book.
♡ laiba ♡
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
OMG THIS WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOOOOKKKKK. I literally felt like giving her a big fat hug. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There was a lot of plot twists and it was very intriguing to see what happened next. It was very interesting in my opinion because you heard two different perspectives. I didnt really like any of the characters because they were really negative but the mom was always there for support. She is kind of the same as me because I always listen to my mind instead of people who try to help. Appreciation= The author teaches us to appreciate the one who want to help. They are worried abt you and want wha ...more
Nova Zaiden
Want more reviews, discussions and fun-filled posts? Check out my book blog, Out of Time.

While I originally thought this memoir was about anorexia, it's about a lot more than that. It's about anxiety, fear and how self-hatred can push people to do terrible things. - Nova @ Out of Time

Anorexia is something that I care about. One of my friends is [or was] anorexic. I haven't seen her for two years since she moved away. I actually wrote a song about anorexia but never got to send it to her because
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Elena and Clare B. Dunkle’s Elena Vanishing, published in 2015, is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl battling a lose-lose war against her anxiety while struggling with anorexia. The story serves as Elena Dunkle’s memoir, in which she struggled from anorexia nervosa along with cardiomyopathy after being violently raped at the age of thirteen. This is Elena Dunkle’s first book, which is why she partnered with her mother, Clare B. Dunkle. Clare is an award-winning author of seven fantasy and s ...more
Christine (Padfoot's Library)
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I first read this premise, I was instantly intrigued. I only know about anorexia nervosa from learning about it in highschool and from media depictions. I've always believed that the idea of anorexia nervosa was associated to thought of simply "wanting to be skinny" and reading this memoir definitely offered up a more in-depth look into the disorder. Elena's story is incredibly raw and open and there were moments of the book where I definitely had to put it down and revisit it. The pain tha ...more
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book.

Elena Vanishing is a memoir written by Elena Dunkle, with the assistance of
her mother, Clare Dunkle. It chronicles Elena's journey with an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa. The book begins during her junior year of high school, but by this time, her eating disorder is already well underway. She is bounced back and forth between Texas and Germany to see a slew of doctors, psychiatrists, and eating disorder specialists. For the majority of the book, she is complete
Barbara Bart
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Barbara Bart
Elena Vanishing Book Review
5 stars

Elena Vanishing is an amazing book with and even better lesson to love yourself as who you are.

17 year old Elena has had a hard time accepting herself. Her mind is always telling her to get good grades, have 2-3 jobs, look pretty, put on makeup, and never ever eat. Her mom, her dad, and Elena have lived in Germany for almost their whole lives. Elena works in a hospital as a volunteer and loves to help people. Over time, Elena’s body starts to shut
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