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Brave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle with Anorexia Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 24, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061725471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061725470
  • ASIN: B0051BNZ78
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Brown tells the story of her family’s battle with anorexia, the “demon” that suddenly possesses her bright, pretty daughter, Kitty. Brown is alternately an introspective and anguished parent and a fierce advocate for the Maudsley approach, a family-based therapy that focuses on restoring the patient to physical health before fully dealing with the psychological challenges he or she faces. Brown carefully amasses facts about anorexia and the effects of starvation in between bouts at the dinner table as Kitty refuses to eat and, occasionally, hides her food. The standoffs are emotionally draining for the entire family, including Kitty’s younger sister, Emma, whom Brown worries is also at risk for the disease. At the crux of Brown’s affecting and informative memoir is the idea that anorexia can happen to any family and that it can be defeated through determination and love, even though Brown recognizes that permanent success can be elusive. In the end, she knows that all any family can do is try, and that her eldest daughter will not be left to fight her demon alone. --Katherine Boyle


“As a woman who once knew the grip of a life-controlling eating disorder, I held my breath reading Harriet Brown’s story. As a mother of daughters, I wept for her. Then cheered.” (Joyce Maynard )

“What sets this book apart is the author’s incorporation of clinical research findings from the field of eating disorders into the story of one family’s struggle . . . [A] compelling story of family strength and an inspiring story for all of us committed to treating individuals with eating disorders.” (Evelyn Attia, MD, Director, Center for Eating Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College )

“One of the most up to date, relevant and honest accounts of one family’s battle with the life threatening challenges of anorexia. Brown has masterfully woven science, history and heart throughout this compelling and tender story. Brave Girl Eating was fortunate to have one brave family.” (Lynn S. Grefe, Chief Executive Officer, National Eating Disorders Association )

“Harriet Brown is an intelligent, elegant writer and this book offers both solace and useful information for families struggling with eating disorders.” (Audrey Niffenegger )

Customer Reviews

I admire Harriet Brown and her family and thank her for sharing their story.
Brown describes the anorexia as "not-Kitty" and does a great job of separating the disorder from her daughter.
E. Carter
Highly recommend this book to anyone who has a family member with an eating disorder or works with kids.
K. Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By JAlover81 on August 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mimijo on October 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Harriet Brown's excellent book I couldn't help thinking of The Exorcist -- in which the innocent child Regan is possessed by a demon, spewing obscenities, repelling all attempts to cast out the evil force that is threatening her life. Just as inexplicable and life-threatening is the sudden possession of 14-year-old Kitty Brown by the demon of anorexia which spawns self-hatred and the uncontrollable urge to punish herself through the withholding of food.

When I titled my review "myth-busting" I meant that, before reading this book I thought of eating disorders as the neuroses of the hyperprivileged raised by mothers who bought into the "a woman can't be too thin or too rich" credo. But Harriet Brown is grounded, well-informed; her family is functional and loving; the message she and her husband have always given to their daughters is of acceptance of the full range of healthy body sizes. So when Kitty starts limiting her diet to a few leaves of lettuce and a precisely-counted number of grapes, wasting away before her family's eyes, erupting into tirades that seem voiced by some alien within her that calls her a pig, disgusting, worthless, Harriet is mystified and fearful.

Despite inept therapists and obstructive insurance companies, and books that perpetuate outdated and downright damaging information, Brown rallies her journalistic discipline and her lioness-mother heart to save her daughter's life, and, by the book's end, has come to a place of hope. Not complete, easy triumph -- but hope.
Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By P. Reilly on August 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alice Reilly on September 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thank you, Harriet Brown, for providing a glimpse into the devastating world of a family in the clutches of the life-threatening and life-altering demon that is anorexia. I alternately nodded and wept as you masterfully and poignantly told our story. From the inside looking out, your portrayal offers hope and redemption from the agony, shame, guilt and helplessness that we, as parents, experience as these"children of our hearts" suffer, endure and persevere through the alternating victories and defeats of this continuous battle.
My tears were released with the awareness that finally somebody "gets this" and hears and validates all that I, as a mother, have been feeling and screaming into the wind. This disease haunts us, consumes us, drains the life out of us and has profoundly changed us, but as you so eloquently point out, it is the constant beating that is inflicted by ourselves and others in the form of judgment and/or blame that is equally damaging and life-changing.
I've read much regarding how or why anorexia happens and the myriad "how to beat it" theories, but this is a rare, compassionate and honest first-hand account of "playing the anorexia hand you've been dealt". Kudos and gratitude for Brave Girl Eating and "Brave Family Refeeding"
I am holding the best of thoughts for you and your brave girl.
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More About the Author

I write about the things that interest me, from the neurobiology of forgiveness to early childhood education. You can find my work in the New York Times Magazine, O, Prevention, and many other publications. My latest book is BODY OF TRUTH: HOW SCIENCE, HISTORY, AND CULTURE DRIVE OUR OBSESSION WITH WEIGHT--AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. It's the result of five years of research into the complex relationships between weight and health, and some of the surprising and life-changing things I learned in the process. Earlier books include BRAVE GIRL EATING: A FAMILY'S STRUGGLE WITH ANOREXIA, two anthologies (FEED ME! and MR. WRONG), and THE GOOD-BYE WINDOW: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A DAY-CARE CENTER. I teach magazine journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, New York. Find me on Twitter (@HarrietBrown), Facebook, and at