Sep 13

Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia

Posted by Soliloquy in For parents

I’ve never had anorexia, but I know it well. I see it on the street, in the gaunt and sunken face, the bony chest, the spindly arms of an emaciated woman. I’ve come to recognize the flat look of despair, the hopelessness that follows, inevitably, from years of starvation. I think: That could have been my daughter. It wasn’t. It’s not. If I have anything to say about it, it won’t be. Millions of families are affected by eating disorders, which usually strike young women between the ages of fou…

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5 Responses

  • Jennifer Donovan says:

    Review by Jennifer Donovan for Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia
    With a tween daughter of my own, I feel certain that at some point, I will be dealing with an eating disorder up close. I hope it’s not her, but maybe a friend, or a relative. Is there anything that we can do to prevent it? What do we do when we think it’s a problem for a loved one? This was my mindset as I went into BRAVE GIRL EATING.

    Harriet Brown is a reporter by trade, and she brings some of that fact-finding expertise and ability to explain and evoke empathy without being overly dramatic. However she writes this book as a mom.

    When her daughter lost a noticeable amount of weight and became insecure and emotional, Brown worried that she had an eating disorder. When it was diagnosed, she was faced with how to treat it. Many people opt for residential treatment, but Brown went with hands-on Family Based Treatment (FBT). This book details her day by day, week by week, and month by month treatment of her daughter.

    Brown is not at all overly dramatic, and yet this is a heart-wrenching book. It reminds me a lot of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, written by another journalist David Sheff about his son’s addiction to crystal meth.

    My heart went out for the parents’ love and care and hard, but good, choices. And ultimately I wondered if the kid will be okay, or when the parents will be able to rest in the knowledge that their child is healed.

    I’ve given this book 5 Stars, because it’s honest, true, helpful, relevant and the story pulled me along and made me feel.

  • P. Reilly says:

    Review by P. Reilly for Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia
    For any parent with a teenager, or teenager to be, this is a must read. Story telling at its best, combining science (although no jargon, thank you very much), wrenching personal memoir, and dazzling prose, “Brave Girl Eating” will be a landmark book, shining a compassionate light on the experiences of Harriet Brown (a science writer for the New York Times, where she first wrote about the experiences in this book for the Magazine) and her family in learning first hand about anorexia. A mature writer hitting her stride, Harriet Brown writes with the authority of a professional journalist and the love of a parent about the current state of treatment for eating disorders. She offers hope in her experience of the Maudsley approach in helping her teenage daughter (the ultimate brave girl) learn to feed herself. I loved this book and would suggest it to anyone whose life has been touched with an eating disorder. I also recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great (although wrenching) story.

  • reader77 says:

    Review by reader77 for Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia
    Ms. Brown does an amazing job of putting into words the incomprehensible world-view of an anorexic as she tells the tale of her daughter’s eating disorder and how she and her family coped with it. Combining the latest science and neurobiological theory with her own very personal story, she tells of discovering her daughter Kitty’s anorexia, the denial, pain, and the struggle to find help.

    The most moving parts are when she recounts her own struggles as a mother to come to grips with Kitty’s anorexia and how it changed her and the rest of their family. She brings to life the fact that eating disorders impact everyone, not just the person who has the eating disorder. Her description of watching her beautiful, smart daughter’s personality change as the disordered thinking of anorexia comes to the fore is heart-breaking.

    But this isn’t a hopeless story at all. Ms. Brown describes her discovery of family-based treatment (the Maudsley approach) to treating anorexia, and how it has a high success rate of helping people recover from eating disorders. She takes us through the treatment program step by step, showing both the good and the bad. I cheered right along with her as Kitty slowly gained weight and the aparkle of her natural personality reappeared. Anorexia is a terrible disease, but this book can give us courage that it can be defeated.

  • Sharon E. Cathcart says:

    Review by Sharon E. Cathcart for Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia
    Harriet Brown’s “Brave Girl Eating” is the story of her daughter Kitty’s descent into anorexia and the long road of recovery for the entire family.

    When Kitty decides she needs to lose a little weight at age 14 after a nutrition class, she eventually slides into the body dysmorphism and deliberate eating restrictions that lead to so many cases of anorexia in teen girls today.

    Brown talks not only about Kitty’s anger about being made to eat again, but also about the effects of Kitty’s recovery on her entire family dynamic. She also presents scholarly and scientific information about eating disorders along the way (the bibliography is extensive).

    While our current culture of “thin is better” does not cause anorexia, it can most assuredly be a triggering factor for young people who develop disordered eating. Brown presents a very real perspective on an illness that she believed would never touch her family.

    Highly recommended for those who enjoy learning from memoirs, or for families coping with eating disorders.

  • Mary B says:

    Review by Mary B for Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia
    I applaud what Harriet has done with this book: she is so in touch with and sensitive about the complex and terrifying journey that is eating eating disorder recovery. As a young woman currently recovering from an eating disorder I cannot express enough thanks for this approach to eating disorder treatment and the publicity Harriet has given given it.

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