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Purge: Rehab Diaries Paperback – March 17, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Nicole Johns offers unvarnished, unromanticized memoir in 'Purge: Rehab Diaries'
— by Amy Goetzman,, July 8th, 2009

About the Author

Nicole Johns received her MFA from the University of Minnesota and a BA in English from Penn State University-Erie. Her eating disorder developed in high school and worsened in college. The summer after starting the MFA program, Nicole spent three months in treatment for her eating disorder. Nicole currently lives in Minneapolis with her fiancé, Brady Johnson. She has been in recovery from her eating disorder since 2005.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580052746
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580052740
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicole is originally from a small town in rural Western Pennsylvania, but now lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where she teaches English at several local colleges. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and her BA in English/Creative Writing from Penn State-Erie, The Behrend College. Her first book, Purge: Rehab Diaries (Seal Press, 2009) was nominated for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award in memoir, and has been described by Library Journal as an "unflinching work rooted in feminist self-reflection." Nicole has also published poems in numerous literary magazines, including The Evening Street Review, Ellipsis, and Lake Effect.

Nicole has been in recovery from Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) since 2005.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Purge chronicles Nicole Johns' memoir of her time in a eating disorders rehab center in Wisconsin for 88 days in 2004, when she was 23 years old, for EDNOS, a term meaning Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. The writing is stark, interspersed with clinical documents like her intake documents, guidelines from the clinic, and the $24,500 bill for her treatment ($15,500 was covered by her insurance).

While anyone who's read any other first-person accounts of eating disorders, or lived with one, will find much that's familiar here--stuffing one's feelings with food, trauma, body dismoprhia--there are several things different about Johns' story. She isn't a stick-thin anorexic, but rather a woman who's a size 9, who struggles with being at the upper end of the weight scale in the clinic. Yet by constantly purging (making herself vomit), she's wound up in the hospital and suffers from heart problems and had a concussion, along with other medical issues that will be with her for a long time, if not forever. She's also bisexual, though that isn't presented as a factor in her diagnosis; in fact, it's treated, refreshingly, as a nonissue, and seems to be a given to Johns.

When she writes things like, "My body has lost its integrity," it's something many, many women can relate to. Yet this is not a self-help book or one with a moral lesson per se. Johns is not holding herself up as an example, and in fact alludes to the danger of doing so when she writes that Marya Hornbacher's memoir Wasted is considered an "eating disorder bible" to many women suffering from eating disorders, and was banned from the treatment facility she attended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jersey-Tree-Huggin'-Hippie on June 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Purge: Rehab Diaries is not your run-of-the-mill memoir of someone struggling with an eating disorder ... it offers a refreshing account of a young women struggling with EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), which is often overlooked. It gives the outsider a detailed and honest look at what it's like to be suffering from EDNOS and then put into treatment. The memoir gives samples of documents from the treatment center she was in, including her perspective of things ... which often were much different than what was written about her. The book is graphic without being triggering (as many memoirs on this subject are) and truly gives anyone, one suffering from an eating disorder or a loved one, a good glimpse of life inside a treatment center. It is a perfect read for someone who feels like they are "not bad enough" to get help or wants to know exactly what it's like to get help. Definitely a refreshing first-hand account of the illness ... an easy read that you can't put down!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By CreativeMN83 on April 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this book accidentally and it was just what I needed. I have had trouble in the past finding books on EDNOS, or any eating disorder related book that I can fully relate to. I loved how honest and straightforward Nicole Johns was about her experience in treatment. I enjoyed reading about her life after treatment, and really felt like she said things that I wish I could say. The feelings I often have, Johns is able to put words to and give those with EDNOS a voice. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By amandapsychedelia on February 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I finished the majority of this memoir in one night. Powerful book--very easy to read. Most people are only aware of anorexia and bulimia but Purge takes the reader inside the experience of a not-so-well-known eating disorder: EDNOS. (Which stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.)

The book starts with an introduction by Nicole Johns in which she references Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. I wasn't sure how to take this: on one hand, she just referenced my favorite memoir and probably the most intense book out there that deals with the subject of eating disorders. On the other hand, I didn't want Purge to be a wannabe-Wasted. Turns out I didn't have to worry.

The book takes place during Johns' days of recovery in an eating disorder clinic. Not only does she take the reader through the hectic life of a person with EDNOS, she also takes them through the long hard road to recovery. The style has sort of a journal-like feel to it. (This is reflected by the first chapter which contains selected entry from Johns' diary.) This made the book feel a bit more personal, which is one of the things that made this book very powerful. A few chapters after the first were written in second person which I found a little bit annoying, but I won't sit here and complain about something as trivial as that.

The book really gets going when Nicole is checked into the clinic. We meet the other residents, as well as the staff, and we're all set to get familiar with the treatment from the moment of arrival. (I knew before that rehab centers had very strict rules--I didn't know the extent until I read this book. Some of the rules just seemed completely random; I would never have thought of half the policies and procedures Johns describes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was amazing. If you currently suffer or have suffered from an eating disorder, chances are you will feel like it was written for you. The perspective that Nicole Johns shares is so real, genuine, and honest. I could relate to nearly everything she was saying, which made it impossible to put the book down. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who currently suffers, has suffered, or wants to know more about what it's like to suffer from an eating disorder. It doesn't get much better than this.
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