2021 Book #19 – The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Title: The Girls at 17 Swann Street
Author: Yara Zgheib
Date finished: 3/7/21
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

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.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book awhile ago (over two years ago at this point) because it sounded interested but I didn’t get the chance to read it until now. This book brought up so many emotions for me. I’ve never experienced the struggle of having anorexia but it seemed like an accurate representation of what those with anorexia must actually deal with. It becomes almost like an addition that they must overcome – and they have to recondition themselves to love their bodies, but they also have to struggle with this for years. The sense of hopelessness that Anna experienced was so heart-breaking – watching what her and the other girls in the house went through. I tend to struggle with eating too much and the guilt that comes from that so I could understand some of the emotions and struggles that Anna went through dealing with her internal demons. A lot of the book was just such an emotional upheaval for the reader – it was a very moving story that ended with feelings of hope. Overall it was a good book and I really enjoyed it. Definitely emotional but I’d still recommend!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #124 – The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

51ZVq3pdcrLTitle: The Restaurant Critic’s Wife
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Date finished: 12/27/15
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Pages in book: 313
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions about how exactly she ended up here.
In their new city of Philadelphia, Lila’s husband, Sam, takes his job as a restaurant critic a little too seriously. To protect his professional credibility, he’s determined to remain anonymous. Soon his preoccupation with anonymity takes over their lives as he tries to limit the family’s contact with anyone who might have ties to the foodie world. Meanwhile, Lila craves adult conversation and some relief from the constraints of her homemaker role. With her patience wearing thin, she begins to question everything: her decision to get pregnant again, her break from her career, her marriage—even if leaving her ex-boyfriend was the right thing to do. As Sam becomes more and more fixated on keeping his identity secret, Lila begins to wonder if her own identity has completely disappeared—and what it will take to get it back.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Free Space” square. This book tells the story of Lila Soto, who recently moved with her husband and young daughter to Philadelphia where Lila’s husband, Sam, has a job as a restaurant critic of a local newspaper. Sam had been temporarily writing as the restaurant critic in New Orleans and was able to find a permanent position in Philadelphia. He is so paranoid about keeping his identity a secret though that he doesn’t want Lila to make any friends or have a job or pretty much be seen in public at all. And when he thinks the restaurant owners start recognizing him, he begins to wear disguises when he’s going out. And while Sam is dealing with all of his paranoia issues, Lila has a new baby boy and is struggling with how to care for two young children.
So this book follows Lila’s story over the course of just about a year. During that time she has many ups and downs. Lila had been a very career-driven and successful woman before her move to Philadelphia, after which she and Sam decided that she would stay home with the kids for a while so that Sam could focus on his job. Lila ends up having more trouble with this than she thought she would though, and misses being in the work force.
Overall I liked this book. To be honest I had a lot of issues with Sam’s character. He was so unbelievably frustrating because he was constantly telling Lila that she couldn’t have any friends that are in any way involved in the restaurant industry. And she can’t work. And she has to take care of two small children with basically no help because even the babysitter will figure out who he is. About halfway through the book I just wanted to scream because Lila says repeatedly that she wants to go back to work and Sam just kept saying that they would talk about when the right time might be for that to happen but it wasn’t now and she couldn’t be interviewed at all for any reason and she couldn’t do FREAKING ANYTHING!!!! What does he want her to do just hide in the house for the next 30 years? He didn’t even want her to make friends with her neighbors. I wanted to punch him in the face, he kept talking about how she was making it impossible for him to do his job but why is his job the only one that is important? Why is his job more important than hers? Anyways, other than that one sticking point for me this was a good book. I think that mothers especially will connect with Lila’s character as most will probably identify with the struggle LaBan describes in many scenes where Lila is alone taking care of her two small children. Good book and I would recommend giving it a try!

The bottom line: I would recommend this book, it was a good story and kept me interested. I had some trouble with the husband’s character but not everyone may have my same issues. I would recommend giving it a try!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page