The Girls at 17 Swan Street by Yara Zgheib deserved every single one of the 5 stars that I gave it.
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.
The Girls at 17 Swan Street is an amazing read and should be read by everyone, those going through similar situations with eating disorders so that they can finally see themselves in a story and feel seen, and those who don’t suffer from eating disorders. I think the story would be especially helpful to the family members of eating disorder sufferers so that they can actually see what it’s like to feel like you have to force yourself to eat every bite to make others happy and to look in the mirror everyday and no matter how thin you are still feel fat.
Typical books about ED show one side of the story, either they show the eating disorder suffered perspective or the perspective of the family and friends who are forced to witness their loved one suffering from this horrible disease. The Girls at 17 Swan Street does have the lense on Anna for the entire story but we’re able to see clearly how her husband and family are effected as well and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Anna and Mathias’ love story had my clutching my chest in fear.
Yara did a fantastic job telling this story. It had me thoroughly invested from the moment I began to read up until the final page. I loved the different emotions that the story invokes by showing you different parts of the women’s lives. I rooted for everyone in this story and would love to read a follow up to find out if any of the women beat the disorders and to see what their lives would be like after treatment and returning home.