Hale-Seubert tells the story of a mother's worst nightmare—a daughter's struggle against and ultimate defeat by anorexia and bulimia.
The author, a practicing psychotherapist, candidly recounts daughter Erin's slow death at age 23 from the ravages of self-induced starvation. When Erin was 13, a simple school assignment in her Life Skills class became a jarring moment. Erin was asked to list what she had eaten that day, and the author was startled by Erin's answer: very little. Her condition worsened to include bulimia, resulting in many hospitalizations and treatments during the next decade. Erin lied, stole and even spent the night in jail, all so she could buy food to eat and purge. Hale-Seubert lays bare her guilt and frustrations as a mother, admitting to feeling detached, even relieved at times, and her humanity is on display here as she agonizes over the possible causes of her daughter's disease. Was it her parenting style or negative body image? Her ex-husband's anger? Perhaps it was because Erin suffered from Sydenham's chorea as a child, an illness that has been linked to obsessive disorders. There are no clear-cut answers here, nor should there be.
Readers may find Hale-Seubert's book painful to read, but they will have a hard time turning away from the author's stark, candid, courageous voice.