The Girls at 17 Swann Street Summary and Reviews

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

by Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib X
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2019
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Yara Zgheib's poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman's struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists' list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

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.

Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is an impressive, deeply moving debut. " - Publishers Weekly

"Zgheib's lyrical, dream-like style will resonate with fans of Wally Lamb's and Anne Tyler's novels and Augusten Burroughs' memoirs." - Booklist

"Moving... a nuanced portrait of a woman struggling against herself." - Kirkus

"One of the best books I've read. Powerful and poignant..." - Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of I Regret Nothing

"Grabbed me from the first page. If you are interested in compelling characters and/or complex issues, this is a must read." - Lisa Gardner, New York Times Bestselling author

"Heartbreaking and beautiful ... a brave book, stark in its realism, yet tempered by its lyrical prose." - Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Daughter

"Heart-wrenching and beautiful ... a must read." - Erica Bauermeister, national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients

"Written with spare, poetic grace, The Girls at 17 Swann Street is engaging, tragic and ultimately hopeful. It opened my eyes as well as my heart." - Susan Crandall, national bestselling author of The Myth of Perpetual Summer

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Reader Reviews

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tuffbird

the girls at 17 swann street
Unusual but very effective structuring puts emphasis on important passages. Interesting topic from an "inside" author. Received advanced copies of this book which was shared with two book clubs, all members enjoyed the book.

Betty Taylor

Gut-wrenching, Captivating Look at Eating Disorders
Anna Roux, 26, was a professional dancer in Paris until her husband Matthias got a job in St. Louis. They have been married for three years and are madly in love. Life seems so perfect except for meal times. Anna, like many professional dancers, has had hammered into her head that she needs to lose weight. Each day is a battle with food. Now in an unfamiliar country, the inability to get a job as a dancer, and the low body image she spirals out of control. When Anna passes out on the bathroom floor because of abusing her body, Matthias insists she gets help. Thus, he takes her to 17 Swann Street where she meets other pale, fragile women who give each other the determination to beat their inner demons and to survive.

Yara Zgheib masterfully gets inside the head of Anna as she is now forced to eat six meals a day. Through flashbacks of Anna’s life we are witness to her gradual descent into an eating disorder. Anna knows she has much in her life that is worth getting better for, but is she strong enough to win out over the anorexia that calls to her every minute of every day?

THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET is a very gut-wrenching, captivating look at eating disorders and the devastation they wreak in the lives of their victims and their loved ones. It is a novel of despair, bravery, strength, and ultimately love. The writing is exquisite, tender, raw.

For anyone who has known someone with an eating disorder or someone who has loved someone with an eating disorder, this book is a must-read.

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Author Information

Yara Zgheib

Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy from Centre D'études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Yara is a writer for several US and European magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman's Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, "Aristotle at Afternoon Tea."

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