15 August 2010

Brave Girl Eating; Harriet Brown

Brave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle with AnorexiaBrave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ms. Brown has written a mix of memoir and analysis of how to treat anorexia, based on the year(s) her family battled daughter Kitty's "demon". I've worked with students that have had eating disorders, and I've seen the toll it takes on families - it's definitely a disaster for everyone.

Kitty's descent at first appears normal: what girl doesn't watch her weight? Particularly a girl who is involved with some form of athletic activity (in this case, gymnastics)? Our society constantly bombards us with images of thin = in, and even the extreme cases (like, Calista Flockhart or Kate Moss) are somehow acceptable rather than shunned. So dieting, or 'restricting' appears normal to parents. At some point, however, you notice that this normal has become grossly abnormal, and by then your child is helpless in the grip of the disease.

How the Brown's cope with this - from treatment and therapy to battling the insurance companies - makes for interesting reading. It's clear that this is an on-going battle, that even three years (or five years) later Kitty is still in danger of allowing her demon to take over. The decision to go with FBT rather than the usual in-patient therapy is interesting, so their results aren't typical but it's an option families should consider. This is definitely going in our parenting collection.

ARC provided by publisher.

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