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Informative,
Insightful,
Interesting

37 reviews

The Girls at 17 Swann Street: A Novel
by Yara Zgheib

Published: 2019-02-05
Hardcover : 384 pages
25 members reading this now
167 clubs reading this now
14 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 36 of 37 members

*A BookMovement Group Read*
**A People Pick for Best New Books**

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 ...

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Introduction

*A BookMovement Group Read*
**A People Pick for Best New Books**

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.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. At the end of the novel Anna says she is the luckiest girl in the world. Why do you think she says that? Is her journey really luck—or something else entirely?

2. Just like a fragrance can evoke memories, so does the taste of certain foods—and sometimes the memories can be wonderful or unpleasant. What examples can you think of?

3. Eating disorders are one of many maladaptive coping mechanisms people use to face stress, sadness, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions. What other examples can you think of?

4. How does Anna’s understanding of “happiness” change between the beginning of the novel and its end?

5. Explore the different types of friendships Anna develops with the other girls at 17 Swann Street.

6. Matthias, Anna’s sister, and Anna’s father each react very differently to her disease. Explore these different reactions.

7. What would the story look like if Matthias was narrating it?

8. Society has only recently begun to speak out about mental illness. Why are books like The Girls at 17 Swann Street important?

Suggested by Members

Ent
by Mysillyboy (see profile) 04/26/19

Nothing for this book BUT. Is it not Christmas? Do we not get a Christmas break ? I am liking this book
by Mmttmm66 (see profile) 01/25/19

Honesty in relationships, why is it so hard
Do we continue to judge by weight
by Onlyann (see profile) 01/20/19

What did you think of the format to the book, the short chapters, the medical summaries, etc...?
by LSakay (see profile) 01/19/19

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

About the author

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"

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by [email protected] (see profile) 10/25/19

Beautifully written book about eating disorders and there effects in its victims and family. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

 
by kareng (see profile) 09/13/19

 
by Alison8641 (see profile) 06/07/19

 
by jspencernc (see profile) 05/29/19

 
by Leonor (see profile) 05/28/19

 
  "17 Swann "by Mysillyboy (see profile) 04/26/19

My bookclub loved this book. It was informative as some of us knew people with this problem. It will definitely make us aware of this disease

 
  "Interesting, quick read"by tkruss (see profile) 04/11/19

I really got into this book and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next in the characters lives. It gave me insight to eating disorders but more than that, I loved the compassion these... (read more)

 
by PeggySue64 (see profile) 04/09/19

Characters well developed; story well-written. Plot rolled out in very readable chronology. There is much to be learned about eating disorders from the characters and the treatment facility staff.

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