STARVING FOR ATTENTION by Cherry Boone O'Neill

STARVING FOR ATTENTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The oldest of singer Pat Boone's four daughters recounts--effectively, if somewhat repetitively--her harrowing ten-year battle against anorexia. The problem began, we hear, in childhood. Boone was a stern, overprotective father whose frequent absences, declining career, Financial woes, and tumultuous relationship with his wife unsettled the family. Added to this were his high expectations for his daughters, Cherry in particular (they eventually became a family act to save his career); Cherry's own perfectionist impulses; her fear of sexuality; and Hollywood's worship of physical beauty. In retrospect: a recipe for disaster. When Cherry round she could control one area of her life--the shape of her body--she succumbed to fanatical dieting and exercise. Her parents didn't discover the problem until she was down to 92 lbs. (at 5' 7""); and so began a clash of wills that was to last four years with her parents, and even longer with her husband. Again and again, Cherry reviews the self-destructive cycle: ""The dieting, exercise, weakening willpower, gorging, purging, hiding, confrontation, denial, shouting, tears, guilt, and desperation."" What saved her? A combination of escaping from the family fold; exploring her problems with a psychiatrist; and spending two years at a Christian work community in Hawaii, where caring for children helped her direct her attention ""outward."" Afterwords by her parents, her husband, and her psychiatrist are unfortunately more fond than revealing (though Boone tan perhaps be forgiven for explaining his need to protect his daughters from ""the treacherous moral environment of Hollywood""). Slow in spots, despite the celebrity angle--but involving.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Continuum