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The Girls at 17 Swann Street

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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.

Yara Zgheib's poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman's struggle to reclaim her life. 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.

373 pages, Hardcover

First published February 5, 2019

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About the author

Yara Zgheib

4 books358 followers
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 Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman’s Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, "Aristotle at Afternoon Tea"

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,195 reviews
Profile Image for Deanna .
647 reviews12.4k followers
February 12, 2019
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

I was really looking forward to reading this novel. I had some things to get done, so I thought I would just read a few pages and come back to it. But once I picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down, and before I knew it, I was finishing the last page and closing the book.

The book begins as twenty-six-year-old Anna Roux is moving into Bedroom 5 at 17 Swann Street.

Anna is originally from France. She is a dancer but hasn’t danced since she hurt her leg. When her husband, Matthias receives a job offer to work in the United States, Anna decides it's a good thing. Her leg will heal and she will dance in the U.S. But after the move, things started to change.

Anna is in love with her husband and he loves her. “ I have books to read, places to see, babies to make, birthday cakes to taste. I even have unused birthday wishes to spare.”

“So what am I doing here?”

Anna used to love roller coasters, ice cream, and french fries.

Anna doesn’t think she has a problem…

“I am twenty-six years old. My body feels sixty-two”

Will Anna recover? Will her marriage survive?

I was engrossed in Anna’s story but I was also intrigued by the other characters stories and what led them to 17 Swann Street. Many of the other patients are also living with anorexia, but some suffer from other disorders such as bulimia “less evident but just as lethal as anorexia”.

I’ve read quite a few books about teens and eating disorders. But this novel was a little different. Anna is twenty-six and 17 Swann Street is a women’s treatment center. I felt the author did an excellent job of showing how someone could suffer from these issues for many years but in some cases, the disorders may show up later.

I love the way the story is written. It is told from Anna’s perspective with alternating chapters telling the story of her life, her relationship with her husband, and how she ended up at 17 Swann Street. Clinic intake and assessment forms, treatment plans, and meal plans are interspersed throughout the novel.

This was a well-written novel that gave a realistic and heartbreaking look at an illness that robs its victims and their loved ones of so much. So often family and friends suffer along with the patient. This novel was emotional and enlightening, and the story brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

I really enjoyed this novel and I'm looking forward to reading more from Yara Zgheib.

I'd like to thank St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
February 9, 2019
Gut-wrenching. Sad. Compassionate. Hopeful. Important.

While this might be a work of fiction, there’s an air of authenticity that feels similar to taking a punch to the gut. At times, facing Anna’s reality is uncomfortable and harrowing, but also eye-opening and honest.

While not everyone can understand what it means to battle anorexia—I’m the first to admit, I’m an emotional eater—we all as humans can sympathize with the underlying struggles, loss and regrets that often linger on the periphery of our conscience. It’s how we deal with those things that vary. Reality is, sometimes we choose the wrong coping mechanisms, things that initially present themselves as stress relievers or worthy options to regain some semblance of control in our lives. Those unhealthy alternatives becoming an addiction or disease that ultimately robs the best parts of life—feeling, experiencing, and sometimes in the most extreme cases, being.

Yara Zgheib introduces readers to Anna, a former ballerina struggling with anorexia nervosa. She’s embarking on a journey to relinquish the control she’s found in portioning, calorie restrictions and over-exercising. Quelling the negative self-talk and anxiety that comes along with putting food in her mouth and actually swallowing feels insurmountable at times. Especially when faced with a forced feeding schedule or the thought of a nasogastric feeding tube.

It’s in a house on 17 Swann Street—surrounded by peach-colored walls and women facing similar fights—that Anna spends five weeks rediscovering her own will to live. Over time, she comes to appreciate and accept the love and support her husband and father so willingly offer. Things most of the women around her don’t have. Anna’s story is one filled with hope and unwavering intensity; you can't help but to root for her and each of the women that cross her path along the way.

The powerful message transcending the words typed across the pages: where there's a will, there’s a way. There’s no getting around the hard work or vulnerability that healing demands, but there’s promise to be found in solidarity and accepting the support offered. Anything is possible, you just have to want it bad enough for yourself. And, who knows, one day, you might be the one offering the encouragement that makes a difference.

Because that is what we do.

My one and only contention was with the presentation of the story. Told through a series of vignettes—snippets from Anna’s past, present and a variety of treatment center forms—as opposed to a full-fledged, continuous timeline, resulted in somewhat of a choppy reading experience.

*Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a review copy.
Profile Image for Angela M (On a little break).
1,270 reviews2,217 followers
February 13, 2019
A compulsive read. I started reading this book last night. I read early this morning. I read when I went the gym and I read this afternoon until I finished it. I could not put it down, in spite of the fact that it’s an emotionally difficult book to read. I was taken to a place I have no understanding of, not just at 17 Swann Street, but I don’t know what it’s like to be anorexic and I’ve never personally known anyone who was. I was fully immersed into Anna Roux’s life. The narrative alternates between Anna’s present in the residential recovery program at 17 Swann Street, to her past just before and then earlier when she meets and falls in love with her husband, to her childhood, then to the stark clinical description of her condition in her Treatment Plan notes, to her sessions with her psychiatrist and most poignant of all her thoughts.

Anna’s a ballet dancer, well she used to be. Em was a gymnast, well she used to be. Valerie, her first friend there was “an A student”, “an Ivy League grad”. This could happen to anyone. Friendships and bonds develop because they care about each other, understand each other and know the pain of putting the food in their mouths and swallowing it. Anna sees that other girls’ circumstances are the same as hers in many ways, but she’s lucky as one of the girls tells her, because she has someone to do this for, her husband Matthias who visits every evening at visiting hours when others have no one. I won’t rehash what happens at 17 Swann Street because I really recommend you find out for yourself. Just be prepared. It might make you cry like it did me, but I’m still glad that I read this. I couldn’t stop thinking throughout that Yara Zgheib must have known this disease in order to so realistically convey how horrible it is and to make me understand in a way I could not possibly have understood. Then I read this article, which is moving and heartfelt, and personal and it made this beautifully written book all the more meaningful. https://bookpage.com/behind-the-book/...

I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
679 reviews4,626 followers
June 8, 2019
4 poignant and inspiring stars for The Girls at Swann Street

Anna Riux is a professional ballet dancer. Battling her emotional demons - imperfection, loneliness, failure, guilt - leads her on a dangerous downward spiral to anorexia and depression. To say that Anna's harrowing journey to reclaim her life affected me would be an understatement. There were moments of inner dialogue that left me with tears streaming down my face. This may be a work of fiction but it was an intimate, heart wrenching and emotional look at battling eating disorders.

I don't know about you but I have definitely had moments where my emotions fuel my eating - feeling so anxious I can not eat or so emotional that I want to eat every sweet in sight. We have all had moments where life feels out of our control. How do you handle it? When Anna felt like nothing was going her way she chose to control what she could - her food intake.

17 Swann Street gave us an insightful look at treatment. It was hard to read about the forced high caloric intake meals, feeding tubes and limited access to bathrooms. I felt for these women who were battling to save their lives. The anxiety over something as seemingly innocuous as sitting in front of a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast was palpable.

I was moved by the love between Anna and her husband Mathias and the support both he and her father desperately provide. With them championing her healing Anna was able to become vulnerable enough to make strides toward recovery. I was touched by the support the women in the rehab house provided to each other. Solidarity, understanding and encouragement are crucial to any recovery.

This is definitely an emotional read. If you opt to pick it up be prepared - you will not put it down unscathed. Your emotions will be all over the place and your heart will be broken but you will come away stronger for having endured 17 Swann Street and sharing the journey of its inhabitants.

Thank you to Yara Zgheib, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an arc of this amazing book.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,500 reviews24.5k followers
October 22, 2018
Yara Zgheib's heartbreaking and lyrical debut takes us into the world of eating disorders, how they can arise and the devastating impact on both sufferers and their circles of friends and family. It begins with the 26 year old Anna Roux entering 17 Swann Street, a residential medical treatment house inhabited by vulnerable and fragile women. As the narrative goes back and forth in time, we learn of Anna's dedication to her career as a professional ballet dancer in Paris, an ex-boyfriend who damaged Anna's self esteem, her wonderfully loving husband, Matthias and her injured leg. Matthias is offered a opportunity to work in Missouri in the United States which Anna is happy to support. However, an isolated and lonely Anna is plagued by her insecurities and fears as her life spirals out of control with depression and anorexia, and she weighs a mere 88lbs.

A young Anna feels more like an old woman as Zgeib outlines the struggles of the women, their stories, their setbacks, and their support of each other. We get insights into their complicated and distorted relationship with food, their inner world of anxieties, self destructive impulses, esteem issues and more. Matthias finds himself out of his depth and feeling helpless but he loves Anna, and it is this love that drives Anna's desire to get better. Zgeib writes with humanity, compassion, knowledge and authenticity in her character driven portrayal of the mental health issues surrounding eating disorders. I found this a raw, intense and emotional read which is brilliant in its characterisation and the medical issues it examines. An excellent book which I recommend highly. Many thanks to Beatrice and St Martin's Press for an ARC.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,124 reviews34.9k followers
January 7, 2019
I read this book in one day. This is a powerful debut for Yara Zgheib. The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a poignant and devastating look at eating disorders and how they affect one's life and their loved ones lives as well.

"I used to eat. I used to like to eat, then I grew scared to eat, ceased to eat. Now my stomach hurts; I have been anorexic so long that I have forgotten how to eat."

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who had to temporarily stop dancing due to an injury. She thought she would be able to dance again after she and her husband, Matthais moved to the United States for his job. Unfortunately, she was turned down many times and found a job as a cashier before succumbing to loneliness and depression while waiting for her husband to return home from work each day. She is anorexic and eating causes anxiety. She notes how her clothes are getting bigger and after her husband finds her unconscious on the bathroom floor, she enters a residential treatment center for women struggling with eating disorders.

Through the course of the book, the reader is shown case notes, eating plans and Anna’s thoughts. The reader is shown her past, her relationship with her husband, the ex-boyfriend who hurt her self-esteem and self-image, her family and her interactions with those at the residential treatment facility.

This is not a happily ever after book. I appreciated how the Author showed that this is something that will be a struggle for the main character throughout her life. The Author showed us the characters unhealthy relationship with food, their mental health issues, self-esteem issues, body image issues, and the serious and life-threatening health issues that arise from having an eating disorder.

I thought the author painted a very realistic picture. She showed that there will be struggles, that relapse can occur that the thoughts associated with eating will not change overnight (and possibly may not entirely change), that this can be a lifelong battle. I enjoyed how the story was told. I immediately felt concern for Anna and was invested in learning what would happen to her and how she would react to being in the treatment center.

**Fact from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Studies show that 1 in 20 people will be affected at some point in their lives by an eating disorder.

**From Mental Health America
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or EDNOS.[1] (EDNOS is now recognized as OSFED, other specified feeding or eating disorder, per the DSM-5).

Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, culture, size, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.

People are usually quick to take care of their physical health, but one's mental health is just as important. People should never be ashamed to ask for or seek help for themselves or for their loved ones. The stigma of mental health has been around for far too long and needs to stop. Eating disorders are extremely serious (as are all mental health issues) and people need to educate themselves. I don't know anyone who would look down on someone for having cancer, diabetes or heart disease, we should also not look down on or make fun of those with mental illness. We should be kind, be supportive, offer to go to appointments with them, talk to them, learn about their diagnosis, etc.

Overall, an enjoyable and haunting look at one woman's eating disorder and her time in a residential treatment facility. There are many books out there the deal with eating disorders and I found this to be a very good one that tells the story with compassion. I appreciated that things were not sugar coated nor were they brutally in your face either. I am impressed that is a debut book. I found it to be well written and again, I enjoyed the style in which it was written. I found the case notes and meal plans to be a very nice touch.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,913 reviews2,349 followers
January 10, 2019

This is the first book I can remember being told from the perspective of an anorexic. It elicited a mix of pity, anger and confusion in me. I mean, I understood the whole control issue intellectually, but this gives it to you from an emotional front.

The chapters move between present day Anna, a history of how she arrived at needing treatment and the clinic’s assessment forms. The balance of it all works well. I would have liked to have seen a little more on how the earlier events in her life led her to succumb to this condition, but I also understand it could have made for a more awkward storyline.

The book also does a great job of showing the effects of the disease on an anorexic’s loved ones. The fear of confrontation causes Matthias to constantly look the other way, to pretend everything is ok.

The book doesn’t pull any punches. You see exactly how hard it is to fight this disease and how not all manage to do so.

This is an extremely well done debut novel and I will definitely seek out any future works by the author.

My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.

Profile Image for elena ❀  .
252 reviews2,601 followers
April 3, 2021
My name is Anna and I am twenty-six and anorexic. I have not always been; I used to want things and do things. Now I am not sure how much of me still exists.

I apologize if I get a little too personal with this review, but this story made me tear up.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street is fictional yet nonetheless real. Yara Zgheib introduces us to twenty-six-year-old Anna, a former ballerina who has been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. At 17 Swann Street, Anna sees that she isn’t the only one battling with her demons. There, she meets other women like her, battling their inner fears and combating hard-making decisions. Throughout the course of 5 weeks, Anna discovers an emotional journey that will lead her to the life she hopes for but is unable to get to alone. With the help of her husband, Matthias, support from her father, and the rest of the girls at 17 Swann Street, Anna begins her recovery journey - a journey full of guilt, fear, pain, and most importantly, love.

I don’t think many people are aware of how effective small statements and words are on people. Words and statements such as You need to lose weight. I was in middle school when I started having body issues. I was skinny all the time, mostly due to birth complications, until I wasn’t. Puberty came, and I “didn’t take care of myself.” As I started noticing my body change, it became less appealing to me, and the older I got, the more angry I got at myself. For a long time now, since then, my stomach has been the part of myself I’ve hated the most. It’s now 2020, I am 20 years old, and I still gag at it. I look at my stomach every day and I wish it looked different, less than what it is.

I see that my stomach is a temple I do not worship, a garden I do not water. It is a part of me that I do not take care of.

Body dysmorphia is something many of us struggle with, and it is something that Anna was struggling with. As mentioned before, statements like You could lose a little weight can actually make a negative effect on people. In Anna’s case, it affected her, very negatively, to the point where she carried it with her at all times, thinking she had to cut down on foods to lose weight to get to the designated number. Anna’s unhealthy relationship with food reminded me of myself. We both see food as our enemy, not our friend. We're apprehensive of what it does to us, to our body, and how different it makes us. We’re afraid of being too much that people notice. We look at food as if it’s a bomb that will tick inside of us. I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, and I don’t know if my current issue would count as one, but it’s something I’m aware of that I wish I could recover from before it gets worse.

Anorexia isn't something everyone understands, and I don't think it ever will be, as sad as that is to admit. Many people wonder how it's possible for someone to not like food, or not want to eat, but they don't question the why. Other times, when they do question why and get an answer, they begin to make everything worse. I once told a friend of mine I didn't like my body, and she told me I had no reason to dislike my body when I had what other girls wanted, yet she didn't understand that the reason for why I disliked my body was just that: I didn't want to have what the other girls wanted. My thoughts are different now, but it's rude to just tell someone they need to get over their body issues when it isn't that easy. You can't just magically fix or get over them.

Once again, it strikes me how little Matthias, or any normal person, can understand. How little of an eating disorder the naked eye can actually see.

Anna’s journey toward recovery was so painfully raw and real. It’s gut-wrenching, having to witness that recovery and see how difficult it is to open a bagel and spread cream cheese on top of it. And you know what, it really sucked. I felt so bad for Anna, and I really wanted her to go home, but I knew she was in the treatment center for the best of her. She was there to get better, and even though she did, it was a recovery that wasn’t easy to get through. 5 weeks feels and sounds short, but for someone like Anna, it feels like an eternity.

Zgheib did an amazing job of describing Anna’s journey, but she also did an amazing job of allowing the reader to get inside Anna’s mind. As the reader, we see every thought Anna has. When Anna was about to eat, we were there with her, hearing her thoughts, seeing her fear, and it was an emotional journey (at least for me). Another thing I really think Zgheib did an amazing job at was the shifting of Anna’s past. It added to the thoughts we read about Anna, and it made me understand her better. Reading about her past was enough backstory to understand how, when, and why Anna went from being a healthy ballet dancer to being unable to eat anything but popcorn and apples. I felt like her reasonings were very realistic.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street show us the perspective of having to deal with something you don’t accept, and I think this is something many can understand. Anna, at first, doesn’t really acknowledge that she has anorexia, and it isn’t something she blames either. Anna didn’t want to blame anorexia because she didn’t think it was anorexia’s doing, it was hers. Although something different, I could understand Anna in this level. Sometimes, we tend to blame ourselves for acting in a specific way. For example, I’ll get anxious presenting in front of people, and instead of acknowledging that I have stage fright, I blame myself, entirely, for being that way, even though it isn’t something I asked for. It’s difficult, accepting we are the way we are. It’s difficult to talk about it with others, especially people who don’t understand how it’s playing with your brain, your emotions and your feelings.

She could have blamed all the running or, more simply, anorexia. But that would have meant acknowledging anorexia. Instead, she blamed Matthias.

The star of this book was the support Anna had. Her husband, Matthias, is the definition of keeper. I was rooting for them on every level. Matthias visited Anna every night and presented himself with optimism at all times, which I really appreciated. When making future plans with Anna, he didn’t say “If you ever get out of here . . .” but instead, he would say “When you get out of here . . .” and it just added hope to every situation Anna was in. Although she was pessimist, the opposite of him, I couldn’t blame her, and I was always thankful she had support like him, rooting for her in every way, even when she didn’t believe it. The other support Anna had was the support from the other girls, like Emm and Julia, and it was beautiful. Although they were all there for similar reasons, they were trying to heal together. They weren’t entirely optimistic, but they never left each other behind. And, honorable mention, Anna’s dad was also a beautiful addition to the story. Although we don’t know much about him, it made me really happy when he flew all the way from Paris to visit Anna in the states, even if it was only one evening.

My only issue with this is one other readers have noted, and that is the way this was written. Instead of the familiar and traditional and full style, the story is cut not in paragraphs but in breaks, no indents in any break, and the dialogue is italicized, including the scene’s of Anna’s past we get and some of her thoughts. It made the story shorter, so that means if it was written in its traditional format, the story would have been longer, I’m guessing.

Bottom line: Yara Zgheib managed to weave one of the most heartbreaking but hopeful stories I’ve read. This is a story of a girl recovering from anorexia, and although we don’t know when her recovery will end, we finish the story with hope.

And to anyone and everyone struggling like I am, I hope one day we can start our journey of recovery and tell ourselves that we did it.

How do you know I will be fine?

She looks up from her book, no longer emotionless. The saddest smile and answer follow:

Because I’ve seen girls like you get better. I’ve been here for four years.
Profile Image for Julie .
3,989 reviews58.9k followers
June 6, 2021
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication.

An unflinching and realistic battle to overcome a life- threatening eating disorder.

Anna is twenty-six years old, originally from France, a former ballerina, now married to a Matthias, living in St. Louis. Matthias, after an eye-opening scene with Anna’s visiting family, heeds the wake-up call and admits Anna into a treatment facility at 17 Swann Street.

Anna relates her story, often in a detached, unemotional manner, but one that gets the message across, nonetheless. Anna is dying from anorexia- make no mistake about it and despite her best efforts, her decision to live, to fight her way out of treatment- for herself and for those who love her- is a long, long, harrowing journey.

The author uses a spare approach to the novel, which I felt was quite effective. It may feel sterile in a way, but I felt removing some of the emotional elements allowed me to focus on the reality of the situation, which was stark, harrowing, and brutal. While normally I prefer to make a closer connection to the characters, in this instance, I was grateful the author kept the reader at arm’s length just a little.

This book has been languishing on my TBR list for a long time. I think the subject matter kept me from starting it a few times, but I also seemed to recall some complaints about the quality of writing. I almost removed this title from the list- but then changed my mind and decided to check out the audio version- which worked out great for me. The narration matched to tone and seemed to fit Anna’s persona quite well. It may have even helped to bring in a stronger emotional element than one might experience otherwise.

Overall, this is a very powerful book, about a very important subject. It opens up an understanding about the disease, about treatment, the difficulty in overcoming such a disorder, and the gut-wrenching pain that loved ones endure, as well. It’s eye-opening in a way non-fictional books on the subject can’t quite capture, and will stick with me for a long time to come.

4 stars
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,429 reviews29.4k followers
March 26, 2019
4.5 stars.

Sometimes reading is less an entertaining experience than one intended to teach, to provoke emotions, and make you think. That was definitely the case with Yara Zgheib's powerful The Girls at 17 Swann Street .

"How does one forget how to eat? How does one forget how to breathe? Worse: how does one remember? And how does happiness feel?"

Anna Roux is 26 years old. She was a dancer in Paris, a profession which pays close attention to an individual's weight and appearance. There was a time she lived life with great gusto, enjoying all her favorite foods, and cooking her specialty dessert, sacher torte. And when she met the man of her dreams, Matthias, they enjoyed the finer things in life, punctuated by food, wine, and adventure.

But after an injury sidelined her dance career, Anna agreed to follow Matthias to the U.S., where he had gotten a job in St. Louis. She dreamed of finding another dance opportunity, or at the very least, teaching dance. But there were no opportunities to be found, and the more time she spends alone, the more depressed she gets, and the more she starts worrying about her weight. A job in a supermarket does little to lift her spirits or self-esteem, and little by little, she gives up the foods she loves.

"They had both become too comfortably settled in the magical kingdom of make-believe. She made believe that she was happy and all was fine and he made believe it was true. It was less painful than confrontation. Confrontation just led to fights. And so she ate nothing and they both ate lies through three years of marriage, for peace, at the occasional cost of no more roller coasters, no more sharing ice cream and French fries."

As Anna's weight plummets, her health deteriorates, as does her relationship with Matthias. When her weight hits a dangerous low—88 pounds—she is admitted to 17 Swann Street, a residential program where women with life-threatening eating disorders go for treatment. Anna meets the other residents—Emm, the self-proclaimed leader of the girls, and the veteran of the house; fragile, compassionate Valerie; and Julia, who is always hungry. These women face the challenge of constant supervision, counseling, giving up most freedoms, and the worst thing of all, they must eat six meals a day.

Anna wants to recover, she wants her life and her husband back. Yet the thought of having to eat so much food, especially fattening food like bagels and cream cheese, pasta, and yogurt, is absolutely paralyzing. She cannot understand how she can survive when she's gotten by for so long with eating so little. But more and more, she realizes that her life and her marriage are worth fighting for—and they can only survive if she's willing to accept her problems and understand what kind of help she needs.

This is such an emotionally powerful book. Zgheib captures the emotional and psychological struggles faced by women with eating disorders, the immense discord that exists between knowing you have a problem and the powerlessness you feel to do anything about it. It's also an eye-opening look at how what we see—about ourselves, those we love, and our memories—is often so far from reality.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street is told in short chapters, alternating between Anna's memories of Paris, the early days of her relationship with Matthias, and the despair she began feeling when they moved to the U.S., and her time in treatment, her struggles to recover, and her relationships with the other women. For me, this was an eye-opening look at eating disorders and how they take their toll on women in particular, even when they know they need help.

"Only 33% of women with anorexia nervosa maintain full recovery after nine months. Of those, approximately one-third will relapse after the nine-month mark."

I've struggled with my weight for most of my life, but I'm fortunate that I've never had to deal with the kind of problems the women in this book did. I'm grateful to Zgheib for such a powerful story and for illuminating the struggles that so many people, especially women, deal with every day.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
306 reviews2,323 followers
January 8, 2019

Like any disease, anorexia sneaks up on tiptoes. Quiet as a lamb. Anorexia is not wanted and most patients express surprise that they have fallen victim to such a hideous illness. Once diagnosed, the patient is usually very near death. It takes no less than a miracle to “beat” anorexia, all the odds are in the opposite direction.

THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET is one of the most affecting stories I’ve ever read. It’s not just a tale of eating disorders, it’s a tale of women fighting for their self-identities. You may not have ever struggled with eating or body dysmorphia, but, I will go out on a limb here and suggest most readers will relate to the characters in the book. We all have those daily emotional battles fought in our own head, right?

Yara Zgheib has captured the emotions so beautifully, the book can only be read through the tears in your eyes. The language is delicate and poetic, it’s completely mesmerizing. This is not to say it is a sad book. I found it to be a story of hope, love and discovery. Absolutely riveting from the first page, I could not put it down. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to lovers of contemporary fiction or even self-help mental health fans.

Thank you very much to the author and Netgalley for my early copy. The book is slated for a Feb. 5, 2019 release date. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
465 reviews1,275 followers
March 6, 2019
Anorexia. A disease that is both a killer of the body but also of the mind. An illness that is as prevalent today as it has been for years.
This is the story of Anna. Her journey of suffering and her journey to healing at 17 Swann street where other residents are trying to recover. A view to the thoughts that go on and the fears and phobias created. The shame and guilt that accompany each mouthful: As small as it is; as slowly as it is chewed.
The small victories for every snack and meal consumed.
The road to recovery is long and is not always successful.

Once thought to be only prevalent among females, this disease does strike the male population. My son was diagnosed with anorexia 2’years ago. And although it was caught early, the destructive behaviours of mental illness still hold a place in our home.
Mental Illness is now accepted as a disease thankfully to the organizations that have pushed and educated the public as well
As the organizations that have put programs in place to not only those who suffer, but to the very families and friends who support them.

Profile Image for Kendall.
625 reviews623 followers
February 5, 2019
Happy publication date to another one of my 2018 favorites! Get this on your list!!!

Oh my gosh.... I don't even know if I will be able to give this novel justice through this review but I will sure try!

The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a breathtakingly beautiful novel that opens your eyes to the demons of eating disorders. Yara Zgheib swept me off my feet with her words that left me haunted, raw, and teary eyed throughout this entire novel.

The story begins with 26 year old Anna entering 17 Swann Street residential treatment center for women that struggle with eating disorders. What I loved most about this novel was the power of showing rather then telling through Yara's words. Yara takes us into Anna's life ever so delicately as the novel alternates between Anna's past of her spiraling down into depression and anorexia and present at the treatment facility.

Yara's talent shines with outlining the struggles that are associated with mental illness. Yara writes with compassion, empathy, love, and honesty in this character drive novel of Ana and her eating disorder. I was blown out of the water with how powerful this novel is.

I found this novel to leave such an imprint on my heart. I highly highly recommend this hauntingly heart breaking read.

5 raw and breathtaking stars!!!!

Huge thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's press for the advanced arc in exchange for my honest thoughts.

Publication date: 2/5/19
Published to GR: 11/10/18
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
1,995 reviews15.7k followers
February 17, 2019
A hauntingly powerful story alive with heartbreak and hope!

Yara Zgheib’s debut is a stunning story resplendent with compassion and heart! An important story, a story that needed to be told, and that could not have been told any better than it was in this book...Miss Zgheib handles the tough and emotional subject of eating disorders with a gentle and loving hand... she handles the subject in a realistic and raw manner, but never lost sight of or compassion for those who suffer.... approximately 1 in 20 Americans suffer from some type of eating disorder in their lifetime... I have work in the fitness industry my entire adult life and I can attest to the fact that eating disorders can manifest in many forms and at any age... my daughter was a competitive dancer when she was younger and the same rules apply in the dance world... there is such an emphasis in so much pressure on women young and old to be thin and fit and perfect especially today when so much is out there on social media.... I truly believe this story will make so many women realize that they are not alone and that there is so much more to life than being thin....

This is Anna’s story... Anna is a 26-year-old exdancer who just moved from France to Missouri with her loving husband Mateus... Anna used to be happy and full of life, she used to be able to enjoy ice cream and french fries... then her relationship with food became toxic and life-threatening... One day when her husband found her after she fainted in the bathroom, they knew it was time for her to get help.... that is when Anna enters the treatment center at 17 Swann Street...

The story is told from the present and the past... Anna’s life leading up to her present situation, including an abusive boyfriend... as well as Anna’s time spent in the treatment center... I really enjoyed getting to know all the girls at 17 Swann Street and hearing their own unique stories.... I also like how the meal plans and treatment notes were interspersed throughout the book, it really added some authenticity to the story... Anna was such a sweet caring girl with such a big heart I had so much compassion for her throughout the story... I was so happy she had such an amazing support system within the treatment center and an incredible husband who was really a rock!

Such an elegant, honest, and emotional story that will have a hold on your heart long after the last page has been read! Absolutely recommend!

🎧🎧🎧 The audiobook was narrated by one of my favorite narrators Saskia Maarleveld... she told the story with so much compassion and beauty... she really painted a beautiful picture with her voice!

🎵🎵🎵 song running through my head, this was not easy I needed to find a hauntingly beautiful song that really was worthy of such a lovely story!
Well I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
But baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love…


*** many many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for my copies of this beautiful book ***
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,685 reviews14k followers
February 9, 2019
A haunting look at a disease that is so hard to overcome. I'm far from knowledgeable about those who struggle with anorexia, have no personal connection to anyone who has, what I know comes from reading about the subject. How it effects everyone who cares or loves the person, how hard it is to watch a loved one melting away, and not able to do anything that helps. I just can't imagine the pain.

The pressure on our girls, on us a women to be thin is a terrible thing. Some vocations though value thiness more than others, dancers, gymnastics, models, ice sisters, all under an inordinate amount of pressure. In this novel Anna is a former ballet dancer, but there are many reasons she becomes anorexia, these we find out while she tells her story. At a meager 88 lbs, she is admitted to Swann street, a residential treatment center for girls, women with eating disorders. She will meet and make friends with others who are struggling, they will lean on and help each other, highs and lows.

What made this book work for me was that the characters were so likable. It was easy to cheer for them, wince as they struggled, and just feel a great deal of empathy. This is a subject that needed to be written about, given much more attention, brought to the forefront of conversations. A touching read, but an informative one as well.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,051 reviews30k followers
February 6, 2019
This was as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be.

17 Swann Street…It’s the peachy pink house where patients with eating disorders are sent for treatment, not always by their own decision; the condition is so insidious, it can be difficult to decide that for yourself.

Anna Roux arrives at Swann Street as a former professional dancer. She gets sicker and sicker and finds herself weighing less than ninety pounds. At the house, she meets Emm, Valerie, and Julia. They seek comfort together and walk the rigorous path of treatment.

Yara Zgheib brings these women’s stories to life with lyrical writing. It is a dark, haunting, authentic journey, with bumps, bruises, baby steps forward, and leaps backward.

The girls learn that through each other, the path to healing is easier. The balance of that dynamic is tenuous, formidable, emotional.

I was enrolled in dance at a young age. I was tall for my age and that would dismay my dance teachers who wanted a perfect “formation” line. I couldn’t control my height, and early on, I equated “tall” with “big.” When dance becomes a big part of your identity, how others define you becomes ingrained in your soul. So, in that respect, I could relate to the topics in this book, to some of the feelings of the women.

Overall, I found The Girls at 17 Swann Street to be a thoughtful, important, realistic portrayal of this disease. There’s brutal honesty and steadfast hope and everything in between present in Anna’s story.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
231 reviews158 followers
February 6, 2019
4.5 Stars, rounded down!

The stomachache worsened. She thought of Philippe. Who had found her pretty, just not enough. Smart and elegant, but not enough. Philippe, who had told her "I love you" and "Do you really want that slice of cake?"

This is a powerful debut Novel by Yara Zgheib and it's a story that really stirred up some emotions in me.

Anna is a twenty-six year old married woman who has moved from Paris to St. Louis to follow her husband's career. In Paris, she was a ballet dancer. She worked really hard at it but was always told, "you'd be better if you lost a few pounds." One day, Anna got injured and couldn't dance anymore. From there, the disease took over and Anna was in full anorexia mode. Anna got down to 88 pounds and her husband brings her to a treatment center. From here, we watch Anna's journey to possible recovery.

This book takes you through all the emotions: anger, sadness, loss, frustration, hopefulness, happiness, love, anxiety, etc. Anna experiences all of these emotions as well as the other girls at 17 Swan Street and you feel them while reading along. The beautiful thing about this is that there's 7 girls at 17 Swan Street and they never leave anyone alone at the table. It was almost like an unspoken sisterhood and it kept giving Anna hope throughout the story. They reminded her of all that she had to lose and why she was the luckiest girl there. It's an emotional journey but a real and raw one at that.

I connected with this book on a different level than I normally do. I do not have anorexia and I've never had an eating disorder. However, I do know how mental illesses and diseases can effect you and those around you as well as the tough journey you go through. I think that Anna's journey with food and treatment reminded me of mine with depression and anxiety. Life is hard. We have to do hard things, but we have so much to look forward to. There will be hard and even impossible days. We have to get to rock bottom before we can start to build back up. But never ever give up. The good days will eventually out weigh the bad and I can promise this: even if it doesn't seem like it now, it always gets better

This book also had a special place with me because growing up in high school my best friend was bulimic. I had an idea of what it was but this book took me through her emotional journey, that at the time when I was 17, certainly didn't understand the complexity of. I could not empathize with the mental journey back then because it was simply something that was kept quiet. I wish I would have known what I know now after reading this. I wish I could have been her Emm and been there in more ways than I was. This really opened up my eyes and made me realize how much of your life these diseases really take over.

Overall this was a great book. I read it in a day and I would have never guessed that this was a debut book. It is written in segments and can read a little choppy. I can see how that could annoy some people but I felt that it helped bring the emotion out much more and helped me feel for Anna. If you are looking for a heartfelt by raw book about women definitely pick this on up. It's out now!

Thank you to Bookishfirst and St. Martin's Press for my ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,814 reviews494 followers
October 22, 2018
I was fortunate to be asked by the book publisher to head to NETGALLEY and check out this book. I am so very glad that I did. The main plot is driven by the fact that the main character, Anna Roux, a professional French dancer, married for three years, is battling anorexia nervosa. Now, I have read a few books and watched a lot of movies about anorexia and bulimia and they are mostly portrayed by teenage girls. So it was very refreshing to see how this disease gradually takes over an adult woman's life.

Like Anna, The Girls at 17 Swann Street are battling eating disorders and this book doesn't sugarcoat the treatments and offers a realistic portrayal of how people think and feel. Yara Zghieb invokes plenty of emotion in the writing of this novel and her various characters show us the many layers and complexities of living with an eating disorder. We see women who lose the battle and those who have struggled with it for many years. What I thought was so realistic is that although we see Anna supported by her beautiful husband, Matthias, this is contrasted by others who have no one. This just makes the book all more realistic and genuine in tackling such a subject that is rarely touched upon in women's fiction.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for suggesting that I take a peek at this book on NETGALLEY. All opinions are my own and all I was asked for was an honest review. I would strongly recommend to watch out for this book available on February 5th, 2019
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,033 reviews362 followers
February 3, 2019
You will find many heart wrenching, glowing reviews on Goodreads for The Girls at 17 Swann Street. This is not be one of them. As great as the story itself was, it did not resonate as it should have with me. Let me explain….

For those who are unaware, this book is about a home for women and teens with eating disorders, primarily anorexia and bulimia and the women who live there. We are privy to their thoughts and feelings about food, about their private lives, what might have brought them to this point. There are those who will survive and, heartbreakingly, there are those who do not.

I am child who came of age in the 70s. Karen Carpenter was the biggest thing in our lives and we all grieved when she died in the most horrific manner possible: heart failure from starvation. In a world full of success and love and music and plenty, here was a woman who had, literally, starved herself to death. When my first husband left me because I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, fashionable enough, I did what any other woman would do: I lost weight. And then I lost more…. and more…. and more…. until I, too, ended up in the hospital. Luckily, I had a great daughter and a wonderful doctor and I got past that point, sort of. When my son was part of the US Diving Team, I watched in horror as young girls retched in the bathrooms, took laxatives after meals, ate and purged, all to please their coaches and to fit into suits that looked great for their fans and to meet the too-high expectations of their parents. This lifestyle, these expectations are so egregious that they cannot be expressed adequately. It is difficult for any author to try to do so and I applaud Yara Zgheib for attempting to do so. It is a subject that must be talked about, discussed, brought into the light for us all to see how utterly common it is in our society.
However – the writing style that Zgheib employed throughout the book was so incredibly distracting that I barely made it to the end of the book. This trend of not using appropriate punctuation is annoying as hell! She is a journalist, holds a PhD and she knows better. This was done as a gimmick and, for me, it did not work. Not only did it not work, it made me incredibly angry – with her, with the book, with every person who allowed this nonsense to go through especially, and because, this book dealt with such an important topic. I love grammar and I love reading. I do not appreciate those who erroneously feel that proper grammar or punctuation is optional. Unless you are e e cummings, you do not get to play with punctuation and even he drove me nuts.

There are plenty of other marvelously written books on this topic. I suggest that you read one of those instead. Or, take the advice of other reviewers who are not as picky as me. Perhaps opprobrious lack of punctuation will not bother you.

I was given a copy of this book by #Netgalley for review.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,064 reviews38k followers
March 28, 2020
It’s perfectly written, one of the most realistic books I’ve read lately. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything about the disease, it captures your feelings, gives you ugly cries, rips your heart and faces you with the harsh reality.
The characters are developed so well. You develop empathy with all of them and start to understand their suffering from deep in your heart. It’s not their choice, they never want to have this disease and they still fight against it with all the strength they could gather.
Our tired heroine Anna Roux is from France, she is a dancer. She likes strawberries in June. Quite mornings make her happy, dusk makes her blue. She likes gray and foggy cities, she sees purple in gray and foggy days. She believes the real rich taste of vanilla ice cream melting stickily from a cone. She believes in love. She is madly in love and she is madly loved.
She is 26 but her body feels like 62. She wants to bring old Anna back.
It’s sad, realistic story doesn’t promise you any happy ending. It is about self struggles, insecurities, inner fights and struggling. But it never cease your hope and advise you keep on walking. Because that’s the meaning of life.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,225 reviews2,932 followers
May 31, 2018
Anna has struggled with anorexia for years and moves in to a live in treatment facility for women battling eating disorders. The book is described as having a lyrical quality to it and I admit I was a bit leery at first because that isn't something I typically like. However, because the subject matter is so heavy it actually worked in the book's favor as it made the tough parts slightly easier to take because they were broken up a bit.

I thought this was a pretty realistic portrayal of a woman with an eating disorder. For people that have never dealt with one before, I think you can walk away after reading the book at least having a better understanding of the mindset of someone struggling with anorexia. The only part of the book I had problems with was the ending as it felt like the author was in a bit of a rush to wrap up the story. Overall, this is a tough but good read with an emotional punch.

I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion!
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,904 reviews727 followers
February 1, 2019
4.5 tragic heart breaking stars

Our striving to be thin has become an obsession. We indulge in costly diet plans, spend hours exercising, cut our food intake, all because the image of success and beauty is a thin body. If you are a dancer, a figure skater, a gymnast, or any other athlete, weight is the foremost idea in you mind. Don't gain an ounce, don't get any taller, don't grow and most of all don't eat. In this book, The Girls At Swann Street, we are taken into the life of a young woman, Anna Roux, as she and others battle the disease known as anorexia. They live together at 17 Swan Street where everything is monitored all in the hopes that they will somehow rediscover the world of eating. Anna is married and is loved by her husband, but he is at his wits ends as he watches the woman he loves disappear before his eyes.

Anna had been a dancer studying ballet in Paris. She was totally focused on dance and of course staying thin is ever so critical if one wants to dance. Perhaps if she weighed less she could jump higher, spin faster, be someone special, something meaningful, something she doesn't hate when she looks in the mirror. She and her husband move to America, and Anna's life and her own self begin that spin into decline and possible death.

Anna, eats less and less and her weight in a 5'4" body drops to a precarious 88 pounds. She is dying from the inside out. She is admitted to Swan Street in the hopes that this program will save her. Her husband is her ally, but that doesn't seem to be enough. She discovers the girls who with her, are suffering from the same inability to place food into their mouth. They have lost the joy of eating, and have lost the joy of living. Will this program save Anna and the other girls, or will they succumb to the ravages of anorexia?

This compelling story comes at the reader like a train rambling along a track that is filled with anguish and sadness. This is a story that many know, that many find themselves in, that many will die from. I heartily recommend this book to all and feel that you will be enhanced and informed by Anna's story.

As an aside, my oldest daughter was a competitive ice skater for eight years. I know, first hand how coaches would frown if weight was gained. They would be upset if a growth spurt set in for that would throw off a child's balance. They would try to control the life of a child to further their own ambitions to maybe someday be the coach of a winner. My daughter's ballet teacher would scream at parents waiting for their children that the parents were too fat. At that time, I weighed 110 pounds. I couldn't even, though I was an adult, get that thought out of my mind. Was I indeed too fat?

It's insidious. It comes upon you, wrecks your mind as you constantly think and live weight.
Is it all worth it?
I watched and interacted with the children, the ballerinas at Lincoln Center. What they ate and placed on their lunch trays was pitiful, all in that attempt to be thin.
Watch the TV, look at magazines, listen to jokes, we worship thinness. We look to normal people as if they are obese, and we fat shame those who have weight issues. This is who we are so is Anna and the other girls's stories so hard to understand?
Thank you to Yara Zgheib, St Martin's Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this moving story.
This book is due to be published on February 5, 2019
My reviews can also be seen here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
583 reviews18.3k followers
December 9, 2018
A harrowing novel about a twenty-six year old Parisian girl battling anorexia. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down.

It opens up with Anna, the main character, as she checks into 17 Swann Street, a residence that provides treatment to women with eating disorders. The name "Anna" is not random, many sufferers refer to anorexia as "ana". 

The illness, the center, and the characters are depicted in a complex and compassionate light. The author did and excellent job describing the emotional process, I felt connected and captivated by this story.

Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to readers of contemporary fiction as well as those interested in subjects dealing with mental health. 

Received ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Profile Image for *TUDOR^QUEEN* .
408 reviews425 followers
December 14, 2018
Thank you to St. Martin's Press who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

Anna Roux of Paris succeeded in her dream of becoming a ballerina, despite the fact that she didn't have the ideal body type or physique. Her lover Philippe (who she was having an affair with) scrutinized her every bite. If only she would diet a bit more, exercise harder, she would be awarded with the best ballet roles. But, he didn't really love Anna and she was never good enough. It never became more clear than when she saw Philippe saunter into a party with his arm around the perfect waist of his wife Natasha. Then one day at ballet rehearsal, light-headed from dieting, Anna collapsed and injured her knee.

It's over three years later and Anna has a loving and dedicated husband, Matthias. They have emigrated from Paris to America for Matthias' job. However, when Anna applied to a local ballet troupe she was politely turned down. She spent months getting in shape, but did not manage to find any job openings in dance. She wound up working as a cashier in a supermarket... but her real career is anorexia. And now Anna is a patient in a home for women with eating disorders at 17 Swann Street.

Because I love to eat (too much!) I had difficulty appreciating just how frightening and hard it was for patients like Anna to eat. There are strict rules at 17 Swann Street, and a schedule of vitals, weigh-ins, meals and snacks. The bathrooms are locked and you must ask permission. These girls are literally scared to death as they sit in front of the meal their nutritionist set out for them, wrapped up in plastic with their name upon it. Oftentimes the only way to get through eating each morsel is to get lured into someone's conversation or keep reciting a familiar poem in your head. Anything to get your mind off of the impossibility of eating all this food...even if it's just a half a bagel with hummus, yogurt, carrots and fruit. The guilt afterward creates a burning in the stomach. And then there's the anger at eating a bagel and cream cheese when it took so long to build up the walls to stop liking it so much. If you don't eat every bite you'll be forced to drink a nutritional supplement, and if worse comes to worse, you'll be fed by nasogastric tube. The ways that a body is adversely affected due to malnutrition is very sobering, such as loss of menstrual periods, bone and skin issues, extreme sensitivity to the cold.

So, why did I give this just three stars? Let me count the ways. Firstly, any dialogue followed the annoying trend of having no quotations with mention of who's speaking, which consistently caused me confusion. Secondly, there were italicized passages interspersed throughout the story backtracking Anna and Matthias' relationship that cropped up randomly, leaving me discombobulated as to where I was in the story. Thirdly and lastly, while I appreciate the plight of the unfortunate people with eating disorders, I just felt a detachment to this story. It's a very interesting topic, but perhaps the writing style couldn't bring it home for me. There have been a lot of positive reviews of this book, so maybe I'm just an outlier.
Profile Image for Michelle .
845 reviews1,181 followers
January 30, 2019
This is a stunning and raw look inside the mind of a woman that suffers from anorexia nervosa.

"I do not suffer from anorexia. I have anorexia. The two states are not the same. I know my anorexia, I understand it better than the world around me."

Anna is a young Parisian woman with ambitions to become a ballet dancer. Unfortunately, she never seems to make the cut. When her husband, Matthias, is offered a job in the United States they take the opportunity and Anna hopes that maybe, possibly she'll get her chance at ballet after all. She does not. Matthias works long hours that leave Anna lonely. One thing she discovers while alone is that she doesn't enjoy eating alone so she takes a job as a supermarket cashier in order to help kill time and supplement the income. Anna's life has not turned out the way she has expected. While her love for her husband remains constant she can't help but feel she has no control over anything in her life.

As time ticks by Anna slowly stops eating. The pounds begin to drop and Anna sees this as success. See, Anna can control something. She can control what she eats. The disease is an addiction she feeds off of. The disease is the only sustenance that she needs until it becomes obvious to those that love her that she can no longer continue or she will die.

"Everyone around me thinks I have a problem. Everyone around me is scared. I do not have a problem. I just have to lose a little bit of weight. I am scared too, but not of gaining weight. I am terrified of life. Of a sad and unfair world. I do not suffer from a sick brain. I suffer from a sick heart."

This is how Anna finds herself at 17 Swann St. This is where, we as readers, come to understand the thought process and mentality of those that suffer from eating disorders.

I don't think I have ever rooted for a couple before as much as I did Anna and Matthias. These two share a love that knows no bounds and it was absolutely beautiful to witness. Each and every bit of dialogue between these two brought me to tears.

Yara Zgheibs use of language is exquisite. It's poetic and lovely and packs an emotional punch that will leave you breathless. 5 stars!

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through BookishFirst. Thank you!!!
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,624 reviews1,602 followers
January 19, 2019
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 she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere 88 pounds. Her husband, Matthais finds her unconscious on the bathroom floor and she has been put in a residential treatment centre for people with eating disorders.

If your looking for a happy ever after story, this book is not for you. I shed a tear a few times while reading Anna's plight. Anna is anorexic and ends up getting treatment at 17, Swann Street, where a lot of other fragile young women are facing their daily demons. We learn the routines the girls have to go through on their road, hopefully, to recovery - adding their calorie intake, slowly, the rules for mealtimes and what happens if they don't follow them. A fantastic insight into eating disorders. I do recommend this book.

I would like to thank NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and the author Yara Zgheib for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sharon.
946 reviews182 followers
January 22, 2019
Anorexia nervosa is a horrible disease that touches so many people. It doesn't just take over your body and mind, but it also impacts on those that are close to you, family, friends and work colleagues. In this story, we take a journey of Anna’s life and her fight with anorexia and what a battle it really is. My heart truly went out to Anna and the other girls who she shared a room with at the treatment clinic.

After reading this book I got a much better understanding of what this horrible disease does, not only to the body, but the mind as well. For most of us, we never think too much about what we eat (well, I don’t anyway) unless we are on a diet or we suffer a health condition such as diabetes where we have to be aware of what we are eating. For people with anorexia or an eating disorder, they struggle to eat simple foods and if they do manage to consume something, then they question the calorie intake and how much exercise it will take to burn those calories. It’s a daily battle and sadly for many it’s a battle that will end their life.

Sad and heartbreaking story that will tear at your heartstrings, but it will give you a better understanding of what people with eating disorders go through. Some will win the fight and sadly some won’t. A book that will remain with me for a long time to come. With thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my digital copy to read and review. Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Lisa Gardner.
Author 84 books15.8k followers
October 16, 2018
I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advanced Reading Copy. Given that I’m a suspense novelist, this was a different sort of novel, being the story of a 26-year old woman suffering from anorexia. I’m drawn to books with strong characters, however, and this novel grabbed me from the first page. Anna, her story, how she got to this point in her life, is so haunting. The entire cast of characters from
Anna’s loving but bewildered husband to the other girls in treatment keep you riveted. If you are interested in compelling characters and/or complex issues, this is a must read.
Profile Image for Lisa.
726 reviews
April 12, 2019
I do not know how to give this novel justice but I just will say this Yara Zgheib thankyou for writing a book on this hideous disease I was compelled by every page I turned & it was a gut wrenching read , I loved Anna's character I felt her emotions going through me at every step she was going through. Her Husband Matthias was an absolute rock for her sticking by her where no one else would, I understand how he felt I felt compassion for him as well.

All I will say now is that this was so upsetting & I really don't understand how one can not eat it is a mental illness that only people who have this can understand, you wanna live & get better or you don't That's it. You live by the rules or you don't your choice. It was a heartbreaking read that I thoroughly enjoyed due to the subject matter I have learnt a lot more about Anorexia than I knew before.

Thankyou to Yara for opening up my eyes to this mental illness I appreciate the illness & what people go through each & every day, you can see someone's illness outright but with anorexia its on the inside that you can't see.
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2,393 reviews7,241 followers
February 6, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

(^^^It doesn’t count as quoting the ARC if it was written by someone else over 100 years ago *wink*)

I had zero intention of ever picking up The Girls at 17 Swann Street until I started noticing the ratings my friends were passing out to it around mid to late January. I will fully admit that I was hoping for a vibe like . . . .

Only set in a home for young women with eating disorders rather than mental disorders. Amazingly, I got what I was looking for. While I fully admit I have no experience with anorexia or bulimia like the girls featured here, I will say that their struggles all came off as authentic. (And if anyone attempts to cry bullshit, I would like to remind them that no two people are alike so they might want to take a whiff of themselves.) This is not an easy read, by any stretch, both in form and substance. The former due to the fact that the author pulls no punches when it comes to delivering a wallop of emotion and the latter because it appears she also may be allergic to quotation marks and contractions.

4 Stars rather than 5 because (a) while hints were dropped regarding what made Anna feel so less than that she started starving herself, nothing was ever covered in her therapy sessions and yet somehow she eventually made grand steps towards recovery anyway, (b) choosing healing for a husband she had only been with a few years rather than for herself was a bit of a message I can’t be 100% on board with, and (c) the pacing was a little off – dragging in spots (especially the flashbacks), but then fast-forwarding to the ending.

Still highly recommended despite those minor issues for me.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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