This co-authored, mother-daughter memoir recounts daughter Elena’s five-year struggle to overcome anorexia nervosa after her diagnosis at 17.
Elena’s memories often highlight the interwoven nature of her relationship with food to traumatic events in her life, from childhood feelings of maternal abandonment to a rape at age 13. The memoir’s most emotionally resonant moments involve Elena’s recognition of the connections between her emotional landscape and her anorexia. However, the narrative follows a distinct pattern: Elena experiences a health crisis that leads to professional intervention, she leaves treatment, the timeline skips ahead. At this point readers are essentially told that during the intervening time Elena was academically successful in such varied accomplishments as completing advanced placement exams and securing a job as a college dormitory residential assistant. It’s difficult to imagine how she masked her heart condition, fainting, and other indicators of serious health problems. With each health crisis, the cycle begins anew, and readers learn that her anorexia has been growing increasingly severe. Elena does bravely expose her emotional struggles, and readers will welcome her eventual recovery. Unfortunately the book again skips the two years between her decision to accept help and the final reveal.
This memoir contains moving snapshots of a young woman’s struggles with anorexia nervosa, but readers may be frustrated by omissions of key moments in the recovery process. (Memoir. 14 & up)