Posted on Leave a comment

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Zara Zgheib


An impressive, moving debut…

In his moving debut, Yara Zgheib expertly narrates the haunting struggle of 26-year-old former dancer, Anna Roux who after following Mathias, the man of her dreams, from Paris to St. Louis, Missouri rapidly spirals down a path of severe anorexia and depression. Concerned, her husband sends her to 17 Swann Street, a residential treatment facility where she warms to Ivy League grad Valerie and former Olympian Emm. As their bond strengthens, Anna sees herself in Valerie and Emm and realizes how much she has to live for. The book is exhausting to read at times, but it has all the elements of an engrossing read: intense, intoxicating, full of drama, love, and hope., Anna’s pessimistic mind-set makes her an annoying narrator, but this very quality of Anna’s makes her more real to the average reader; to the non-sufferer who has never struggled with the eating disorder, Anna’s reasoning is distorting but anyone even with a slight tendency toward anorexia could relate fully to her suffering. The author doesn’t stereotype the illness just to shock the reader, and that’s the best thing about the book. A glimpse into Anna’s own thought process along with the treatment facility’s clinical assessments and the third person flashbacks provide a balance to the narrative. Anna’s outbursts are realistically depicted, and the journey of her recovery fills the reader with hope. The secondary characters in the book hardly get any space, but Zgheib has written compelling, realistic characters. Though the ending is abrupt and neat (and not happy), it’s full of hope. Zgheib seamlessly leads the reader through an unpredictable maze of characters’ struggles with depression, anorexia, love, and understanding.


The Girls at 17 Swann Street

by Yara Zgheib

Buy at Amazon

St. Martin’s Press

Pub Date 05 Feb 2019

ISBN 9781250202444

PRICE $27.99 (USD)

Leave a Reply