"As the family stumbles towards recovery, the book winds down with mother and daughter (Lisa is now in her early 20s) expressing hope for the future. There may still be a bumpy road ahead, but the mere fact of Lisa's survival, and the revelation that healing is possible, will provide comfort for many families on the same path."
illustrates that, whether the problem concerns food, drug abuse, or alcoholism, even amid the depths of pain and despair healing becomes possible when the desire for it is real and strong."
-San Jose Mercury News
A courageous account of what it is like to exist with a life-threatening eating disorder from two quite different standpoints-Lisa, the daughter who stops eating, and her mother Sheila, a restaurant critic. The irony of this situation is lost on neither, and both are unsentimental and deeply honest about their experience. I especially admire their separate advice for how best to support recovery. This book should comfort anyone confronted with this illness as well as provide much practical help for dealing with it. "
-Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics
and What to Eat
"Sheila and Lisa Himmel put on paper-with rare vulnerability, wit, and courage- what millions of American mothers and daughters face privately, but fear speaking about in public. Their capacity to mine the depths of Lisa's struggle with eating disorders and Sheila's struggle with Lisa will undoubtedly bring an overwhelming sense of relief and recognition to so many mother-daughter pairs trying to make sense of so much pain. Perhaps most admirable, blame is never a weapon in this extremely personal memoir. Instead, these brave women acknowledge the complex sources of illness and point a way toward real, messy, tentative, hopeful recovery."
-Courtney Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters
"An engrossing look at the power of food and eating. Mother and daughter have given us a deeply personal story about what happens when that power overwhelms."
-David A. Kessler, MD, author of The End of Overeating
and former Commissioner, FDA
covers a deadly and serious topic in a poignant story that addresses the irony of our culture's obsession with food. Sheila Himmel brings her talent as a journalist and food critic to show intimately how this disorder took over her family's life for the eight years that daughter Lisa suffered from a spectrum of disordered eating-from anorexia to bulimia to anorexia. As Sheila notes, 'eating disorders function like addictions, but no you can't 'just say no' to food, especially in our culture where...America is a 24-hour buffet.' [The] Himmels bravely share their ups and downs, with honesty and sometimes even humor. Mother and daughter both learned a lot during the recovery process and report on helpful resources they found along the way. I love that the book ends with an optimistic tone and their two lists on '10 Things we learned about eating disorders.' I highly recommend this first-hand and easy-to-ready mother/daughter account of a complex illness that will provide comfort, insight, and support for anyone struggling with or affected by an eating disorder."
-Janice Bremis, executive director Eating Disorders Resource Center
"Through their honest and compelling story, the Himmels reveal the human impact of eating disorders from multiple perspectives: Sheila as a mother and professional reporter and Lisa as a daughter and eating disorder sufferer and survivor. This book is a gift to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of this often misunderstood disease."
-Ellie Krieger, registered dietitian and author of The Food You Crave
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Juliet Wittman The irony is obvious: Sheila Himmel is a former restaurant critic for the San Jose Mercury News and a winner of the James Beard award. Her onetime workplace is situated in the heart of America's foodie revolution, where the tyranny of French cuisine was long ago rejected in favor of fresh, organic, local and simple. But her daughter and co-author, Lisa, once a kid with a healthy, inquisitive appetite, suffers from anorexia and bulimia -- disorders that nearly took her life. In alternating segments, the two women describe their separate realities. Sheila is well aware of our culture's dysfunctional relationship with food: the overeating and the obsessive dieting, the passing fads, the simplistic labeling of types of food as either good or bad, and she analyzes her daughter's problems within this larger context. Lisa's contributions are narrowly autobiographical. This memoir will prove useful to those suffering from eating disorders, and their families will find it informative too. Other readers, though, will not find much here to enjoy. There's too much self-searching and too little storytelling, and while Sheila speaks of the delights of eating, she doesn't evoke them. Instead, we get tedious descriptions of everyone's eating habits, like this one from Lisa: "More often than not I ordered a junior scoop of cookies and cream, which had a minty undertone in its creamy vanilla base with generous chunks of Oreos. I still prefer my chunks of cookies nestled within the creamy texture of vanilla, but sometimes I branch out into the land of peppermint. . . ."
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