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Purge: Rehab Diaries

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Purge is a beautifully crafted memoir that has a Girl, Interrupted feel. In this raw and engaging account of her months in rehab, Nicole Johns documents her stay in a residential treatment facility for eating disorders. Her prose is lucid and vivid, as she seamlessly switches verb tenses and moves through time. She unearths several important themes: body image and sexualit ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Seal Press (first published March 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,790 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow, it makes me feel kind of weird that there are so many mediocre reviews of this book, when I got so completely sucked into it and read it in one morning. I mean, last night I played a show with my band at a converted biscuit factory, out in East Oakland, with two other bands and a fashion show. It was kind of emotionally draining because there was drama and THEN there was tons of traffic on route 80 so I didn't get home til like three AM, but the dog didn't care, she started flipping out som ...more
Lauren Hopkins
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic, realistic, no-sugar-coating exploration of a young woman diagnosed with EDNOS who spends three months in a residential inpatient program in Wisconsin. I've read a few memoirs like this one and have never felt connected to a writer the way I have to Nicole, probably because we're close to the same age and are both perfectionistic nutbags who used school and academic life as a way to check out of real life, WHAT UP. But I've also never read anything this detailed about what it ...more
Quite good, and it's refreshing to read a book on eating disorders that focuses on the struggles of recovery, as opposed to the years of disordered behavior. (For an example of the latter, read Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. Like many other of this type, it's a veritable how-to manual for anorexia and bulimia.) Covering her inpatient stay for EDNOS, Johns presents her own view of recovery, including those there with you who fall by the wayside. Overall, quite good.

The only problem I have with Purge
i think this is the best and smartest ED memoir i've read. it is not as self-focused as hornbacher's Wasted - possbily because it focuses not on every possible interpretation and aspect of her disorder(s), and instead focuses on a finite time and place: during her treatment in an eating disorder clinic. thus, johns gives us a larger cast of characters and presents a community of frail bodies working through multiple issues, not just one pathological extreme that shrieks me me me me me i'm so fuc ...more
May 10, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a memoir of the author's 2 months in treatment for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). It's a very fast read, and pretty interesting. The tone and point of view are really slippery, and not necessarily in a calculated way. She veers between nostalgia for her friends, disdain or distrust of her doctors, and a sort of "more mature" or "recovered" voice. But what I liked about is that she does give the reader a chance to see inside the distorted thinking that characterizes eati ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely a must-read for anyone in the field of eating disorder treatment, or for those who have a friend or family member who has struggled with an eating disorder. Johns offers a rare insight into what helped, and what didn't, as she progressed through treatment. She also describes her eating disorder in a way that helps the reader understand that it's not just ignorance or a simple, curable thought-pattern. ...more
Andrew Sydlik
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, own
Memoirs are not usually that interesting to me. I find that they sound like they’re airing baggage. They also usually lack craft or innovation. And no matter how much the author may confess to explore their own faults or wrongdoings, there is usually a tone of arrogance or self-righteousness. (See Dharma Punx, which explores two unlikely linked subjects I am interested in—Buddhism and punk rock.) Johns’ Purge: Rehab Diaries is a refreshing exception.

Most of the book involves Johns’ experience du
Sam McKerrow
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In my opinion this is the best book about eating disorders out there. I read it every time I start to feel pressure to lose weight, look better, thinner, or when I start to hate my body. It's a great book to ground you into the realities of an eating disorder and show the negative side effects without glossing over any uncomfortable subjects. Rather than acting on any of my anxiety or eating disorder urges, I sit, and calmly read this book until the urges pass.
It's not a book explaining how to r
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The 'recovery doesn't always work' concept is something I've been looking for in an ED book for a while, but now that I've found it I'm discovering that it doesn't make for a very strong ending.
It's an "I worked hard but then it failed, I think about how we got here, The End," type thing.
I found the writing clunky, the use of tenses annoying, and the story not particularly interesting/original/valuable. I suspect that part of the problem was that it was the early 2000s, and I rarely enjoy readin
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: body-image, memoirs
This definitely earned props for me for being an ED book about someone who struggles with bulimic tendencies; it seems like there are a lot of memoirs and novels focusing on anorexia and seeing a narrative of someone with EDNOS was refreshing.

But I did not love it. The pacing and structure wasn't my cup of tea — modeled MUCH like Girl, Interrupted it was vaguely chronological but also had short descriptive chapters not specifically part of the timeline, or would hop sporadically back and forth,
James Buchanan
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
My daughter has suffered with a severe ED for a long time and now I feel that I have a bit more understanding of how it drives her and some of the motivations behind her actions and thinking.

A great read for anyone with someone they care about going through this dreadful disease.
Sarah Garvey
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eating-disorder
Trigger warning, very detailed. But someone's real story. ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
A frank account of residential treatment for EDNOS (that not quite anorexia, not quite bulimia diagnosis). Fascinating if you are interested in the details and methods of eating disorder treatment.
Agatha Glowacki
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ed
Interesting insight into what life is like at inpatient, didn’t find writing very sophisticated. Very raw
Paloma Martinez
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Random non-ending very unsatisfying
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Purge chronicles Nicole Johns' memoir of her time in a eating disorders rehab center in Wisconsin for 88 days in 2004, when she was 23 years old, for EDNOS, a term meaning Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. The writing is stark, interspersed with clinical documents like her intake documents, guidelines from the clinic, and the $24,500 bill for her treatment ($15,500 was covered by her insurance).

While anyone who's read any other first-person accounts of eating disorders, or lived with one,
Natasha Holme
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Unusually written, in a wispy, poetic second person at first, the author was pulling women and men without explaining her sexuality, not even on the back cover or in the foreword, which was unexpected. Good for her.

I enjoyed the unusual writing style ... mainly in the present tense, sometimes in the future tense, somehow intimate and superficial, personal and impersonal, simultaneously. I wondered whether Nicole's use of language was intentionally disorientating? And I was conscious most of the
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I wish I could give this book a 3.5, because 3 seems too low but 4 seems too high. I guess I'll just have to live with stating that here.

Strengths: Jones is incredibly candid, which I appreciated. She tells everything the way it was, without trying to glorify or dramatize the disorder or the experience and without filling in blanks with imagined scenarios. It seems that she doesn't care if she offends, upsets, or impresses anyone in her writing, which makes it feel much more honest. Overall, it'
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
I finished this book in 24 hours, despite the fact that I've been having a hard time sitting down to read lately. It was really engaging. I liked her inclusion of primary documents in the text, though the layouts were a bit difficult to read.

As for the story itself, I really liked the message that the author was trying to send. She says that she is trying to avoid writing a book that will just become "thinspiration" as many memoirs by anorexic and bulimic people do. She's trying to give a very
Gabriel Avocado
i loved this book. it was fast and fun to read, tragic and funny in some spots, dramatic and at the same time human and real. this was by far my favorite memoir ive read recently. naturally it deals with some extremely triggering topics, including sexual assault, so please be aware of this before diving in. but if you can handle it, i highly recommend it. nicole's voice is so clear, i can pratically hear it even though ive never heard her speak.

the only things i didnt like about the book were th
Krystal Barnard
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's hard for me to love a book about eating disorders as much as I loved Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. However, this book is right up there with it. I enjoyed reading the experience of the author and often times felt hurt for her. I can always tell a good book if I get way too emotionally involved in it. Purge: Rehab Diaries left me in many situations when I had no idea how to put it down. It's refreshing to read something that truly depicts what an eating disorder can do to you. It ...more
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
As Johns said in the beginning of her book we are in the age of memoirs, especially memoirs concerning "taboo" topics such as eating disorders.
She claims that her story is different, and I think in some important ways it is. Johns is the first ED memoir author I have come across who has suffered from EDNOS. She is bringing light to the fact that one does not have to meet the DSM-IV criteria or appear severely emaciated to suffer from an eating disorder. Johns herself, was not drastically underw
May 06, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the kind of train wreck of a memoir that I always look for when I'm taking a long trip; somehow these types of books keep me interested while sitting on a plane for hours and hours. Nicole Johns entered an eating disorder rehab clinic to try to beat her demon, EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, but it's a lot like bulimia). She talks about her own struggles and the struggles of the other women who have checked themselves into the clinic, and also about life in the clinic its ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I started this book two days ago, and have been virtually incapable of putting it down. I was fully drawn into the book and could really feel everything from the life that Johns described. This story is definitely one of the premiere memoirs dedicated to eating disordered behavior, with the added benefit of discussing the lifestyle and problems associated with an extended stay in an eating disorder treatment facility. I felt a strong sense of appreciation that unlike many books dedicated to the ...more
Brittany Murray
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Out of the 5 or so eating disorder memoirs I have ever read this one is definitely my favorite (including Marya Hornbacher's Wasted). I love that this book is about EDNOS since it is a much less frequently talked about form of ED. It was very interesting to see what her life looked like in the middle space between being an anorexic and a bulimic. I found the memoir to be much more well written than others I have read and had much less of that existential angst that I've come to expect from eatin ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
In comparing this book to other memoirs of a similar topic I believe it is my favorite. It is probably the best written and most lucid. I found Johns' report of her stuggles and what was helpful to her in recovery insightful and helpful as a treatment provider. I also liked how she characterized the different personality types of the girls with bulimia versus anorexia. It would be a lie not to admit that it is also appealing in the fact that it had a happy ending.

The memoir is empowering and pos
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book very quickly it was so enticing. It's hard coming across memoirs that don't constantly preach the whole "woe is me, my life is so hard" thing. It was refreshing to get a take on what it's like in rehab, specifically for those with EDNOS since that disorder doesn't get very much attention. She concludes the books well, showing that being the sickest isn't something to be proud of, and not taking treatment seriously isn't beneficial. I enjoyed how well it was written and the f ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was looking for something raw that showed the darker sides of eating disorders (I'm researching for a book of my own on this topic) and that's exactly what this book gave me. If you're interested in what goes on in a rehab clinic, then you should read it. It's not really a story where there are fictional characters and events, this is someone's real life.

I liked the book and I liked how she included pictures and procedures in her book. It was easy to follow. But again, if you're looking for mo
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is absolutely one of the most riveting books I have read in awhile. I love the candidness of the author and the actual documentation shown in the book. This is a great read for anyone who is or has battled an eating disorder as well as people who want to better understand them. I could really relate to this book and would recommend it to just about everyone. It truly shows both a happy and sad ending to eating disorders.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
Nicole's story of being in inpatient treatment for EDNOS. She does capture well some of the awful and very real feelings of having an eating disorder, but over all the chapters are very short. It is not so much a story, but rather discrete memories and did not flow well for me. It is an easy read and does give an idea of what it is like to be in inpatient treatment, so it is a valuable contribution to the eating disorder literature. ...more
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Nicole is originally from rural western Pennsylvania, but now lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where she teaches English at several local colleges. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and her BA in English/Creative Writing from Penn State-Erie, The Behrend College. Her first book, Purge: Rehab Diaries (Seal Press, 2009) was nominated for ForeWord Magazin ...more

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