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on April 14, 2009
This has to be my ultimate favorite memoir of a young woman's gripping battle with anorexia. It has been weeks since I read this book, but I wanted to give me some space between reading it at writing my review. The author's writing style is unique and creative. She at times writes in third person as well as first person and at other times she even stops the story to interject very honest and helpful explainations. Her ability to describe her inner thoughts and conflicts at the same time as painting a picture of her outside interactions and experiences is amazing and very important.
To be honest, I cannot say enough good things about this book to accurately explain how enraptured I am about it. I think it is written in an extraordinary poignant way to the point of being one of the most important memoir's in the field of eating disorder literature. Ms. Bowman has captured what it is like to be consumed by an eating disorder and at the same time try to navigate in the world and attempt to interact with your loved ones, doctors, acquantances, and society as a whole all while trying your hardest to hide your inside thoughts, feelings and reasons for your disturbing behavior.
I would never have imagined someone writing such a gripping and accurate portrayal of having a severe eating disorder and what it is like inside the mind of the sufferer and outside trying to live in a world that refuses not to be judgemental. Ms. Bowman captures somewhat it is I am trying to say on page 240 of her book, "That is the odd thing about anorexia: it is seen to vanish when the body is mended. It moves from body-side to inside, and perhaps it is more dangerous when it cannot be seen."
Ms. Bowman is a remarkable and talented young woman. I am honored to have had the experience to read her story and read her thoughts. I highly recommend this book and give thanks to such a tenacious young woman for writing it.
I do think that it is important to note that Ms. Bowman has a very different recovery story than those who have spent many years in the grips of an eating disorder. This is not to compare the suffering of anybody. I just think that her recovery without ever being hospitalized is noteworthy because her quicker recovery than some might be hard to relate to for those who are more chronic.
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on February 21, 2011
Yes, this is a story of a young woman battling an eating disorder. I think...she talks about wanting to be thin, restricting her intake, her diagnosis and then she is recovered because she decided she no longer wanted to be anorexic.

I think this account is a somewhat dangerous view of anorexia. She does not go into what her treatment plan really was; what her therapy sessions really entailed; or what really made her to get well. She says she "got bored" with it and just decided to stop.

Eating disorders are an illness. It baffles me when I hear of young, naive, girls saying they wish they could be anorexic, or bulimic, or whatever...it doesn't work that way. One does not really make a conscious choice to fall deep into the throws of anorexia. It is a painful, disturbing place to be.

Likewise, I find it very difficult that one can just say "I'm bored of anorexia. I think I'll stop now."

I am very sure there is much more to Ms. Bowma's story than that. There has to be. But this book fails to go into the real emotions and feelings that haunt a person with an eating disorder. If you want a read that truly goes into the nitty-gritty of these disorders I would recommend "Wasted" by Marya Hornbacher.

As a recovering anorexic, I wish I could have just said "I don't feel like doing this anymore." and POOF! It was over. Unfortunately for me, and most anorexics, that doesn't happen. Maybe most of us are not as emotionally strong as this woman, but going through recovery with little or no professional help, I believ, is very dangerous. I think it is an irresponsible story to tell...to imply to people with eating disorders, "hey, just stop doing it. It's that simple." is a very dangerous implication. It took years of therapy and emotional healing to get to where I am today with my illness. I consider myself fully recovered, but there is always that haunting image that follows me. and there is no way I could have done it without the help of a team of experienced professionals. Yes, Ms. Bowman does suggest to seek help, but her overall tone of the book is that she did not need it. She was strong enough to do it on her own. Good for her, but I have a hard time swallowing that. This book just didn't seem to portray the real emotion and heartache that one would go through in such a situation.

More than the content being vague and lacking emotion, I found the writing style confusing and somewhat annoying. The author jumps from one tense to another and I was frequently lost as to what stage of her disorder or recovery, or even her life, that she was in.

I wouldn't recommend it.
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on August 7, 2009
"Thin" is a memoir about a woman suffering from anorexia nervosa. Unlike so many other memoirs or autobiographies on the subject, Ms. Bowman doesn't glorify or glamorize this disease. She writes with an unflinching style, much like Marya Hornbacher did with her infamous "Wasted," and perhaps gives the reader an even deeper insight (than Hornbacher did) into what goes on in the mind of an anorexic. I found myself unable to put this book down. It is also a book filled with hope. Ms. Bowman "found" a cure (or at least a way to cope) within herself, and despite seeing several professionals in the mental health field, made the ultimate decision to go it alone and I absolutely applaud her bravery. There is one caution I would give about the memoir, and that is its 'triggering' nature...but I believe ANY memoir that is honest is going to be triggering to the eating disordered population. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to understand anorexia, and absolutely recommend it to the "experts." (Though the experts are typically too wrapped up in their own egos to take advice from one who is suffering, even one as insightful as Ms. Bowman.) Also, I must take issue with the title of the book, which is too trite and meaningless for the content. I see that the original was called "A Shape of My Own" which is much more apt, and I wonder if Ms. Bowman had anything to do with the change--my guess would be that she did not. I applaud you, Ms. Bowman, and want you to know your book touched me in ways I cannot express.
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on December 27, 2009
I agree with the other reviewers and wanted to add that I have read over 20 memoirs of Eating Disorders and this is in my Top 2. It is never boring and doesn't just "tell what happened"...as some memoirs do. It has this luminous quality to the writing...almost surreal, so that it is a true work of art in writing...almost poetic. It paints pictures in your mind using words and phrases that almost left me spellbound. This author is a true writer. She took me on a lyrical journey and I was so consumed with her style of writing. She most certainly needs to write more books!
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on August 1, 2013
This book struck me as a little aloof and cursory. The author moves quickly over her experiences with an eating disorder, writing in short sentences that I personally find a bit off-putting (but it might be a matter of personal preference, or perhaps she was aiming at a very young audience). But it's not the short sentences that make this book a bit pithy. The author doesn't really push her self-reflections or analyses deeper beyond matter-of-fact statements and descriptions. Her narration comes off as succession of events that to this day seem puzzling even to herself, let alone to the reader. This impression is no surprise if one reads the author's own statements about her experience with therapy: she resists the self-probing required by psychologists and doctors, she recoils when they ask her to talk about her "feeeeelings," in her own words. I suppose some people find this kind of emotional self-searching a bit uncomfortable? I don't know. I was looking for some insight into her condition, not least because she is one of the rare examples of people who managed to overcome her disorder on her own. This fact alone could offer hope to people with eating disorder and their families and friends, but the author seems as baffled by her success as the reader and therefore cannot offer a tangible model or inspiration.
I should also say that a couple of years ago I read Wasted, by Marya Hornbacher, and that book set the standard for eating-disorder memoirs for me. Hornbacher's account is so vivid, detailed, and evocative that it really brings the experience to life for the reader. Perhaps Bowman's Thin paled because of this previous reading. At any rate, it feels like the author is holding back throughout.
I suppose this might be a plus to readers who, like Bowman, are more reserved and identify with this more detached style--perhaps these might find comfort in her cool voice. Someone who struggled through similar feelings and issues might identify with her. But I never struggled with an eating disorder myself, and I am interested mainly in the emotional and mental health aspects of eating disorders, so the book offered very little that was new.
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on November 15, 2010
I have read several other autobiographical books on anorexia and eating disorders, included "Wasted" and this one certainly tops the list for me. Grace is an amazing writer who is quite adept and proficient at taking you deep inside the mind of an anorexic. It's a much shorter read than some other books of similar topics and a little less graphic in its content in comparison to "Wasted." Therefore, I would say this most definitely makes it a more desirable read for someone who is trying to understand the complex and troubled mind of an anorexic. Although some parts are a bit triggering for anyone undergoing recovery from EDs, it is still highly recommended!
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on August 4, 2011
"If I share a secret with you, do you promise to tell everyone?"

In "Thin," Grace Bowman has done an exceptional job of portraying a young woman's decent into the illness of anorexia. This story is her own, yet it is also an experience many young women share.

Ms. Bowman writes with a lyrical yet staccato quality to her prose that engages yet holds the reader at arm's length while she writes in the third person throughout much of the book. She sets her story up as a stage play. The stage is set, the curtain raises on her addiction, "game on." This illustrates her sense of looking in on herself from the outside, a disconnectedness which she describes as "a blankness, a lack of id," a sense of distance from the body. She desribes a lack of identity which is filled by her addiction to starving. "What am I?" she asks. Her thinness is worn like a badge or honor. It is her identity, a way to be seen and yet not seen. "See me not-eating!"

Ms. Bowman switches to the first person and becomes more personal. She speaks to us through both an "inside voice" and an "outside voice," describing a numbing detachment that makes her unsure of "what a feeling is or how to really describe it," an emotional paralysis, disengaged from feeling and believing unconsciously that self-esteem will emerge from a thinner body.

She asks herself why she uses self-starving as an answer to uncertainty and fear of failure. She explains how as she grew up and adult decisions suddenly loomed, nothing seemed certain anymore - except what she did or didn't eat. Her fear turned to action in the guise of a strictly controlled diet. She describes how anorexics often share the commonality of low self-esteem and the lack of ability to learn from experience. They try to forge a self through losing weight and changing their shape, mistakenly believing that happiness will emerge from a thinner body.

Even into young adulthood, as she tells her story, important people remain nameless with only titles, such as "best friend," and "boyfriend." She does all the things that are expected of her, or rather, that she expects of herself, but still, as she moves to London and lands a corporate job, she is moving as if in a dream, choosing random streams and then following them, with her secret self safely locked away. Everything is simply on the surface. Her desire for everything else is diminished as she fights her hunger for food.

She starts eating a bit while at university to appear normal, but still doesn't feel "normal" inside. It is still all a stage play. She then consciously decides to move away from the addiction and fights her compulsion to starve, as her mind shouts at her, "Stop eating. Hide away." Recovery, she explains, is about growth and learning to embrace change, rather than fighting it. For her, it is a shift in perception that leads to the emergence of feelings. She finds the courage to begin to move away from the addiction, and establishes a relationship with the world outside of her self-absorption and obsessive relationship with food and the shape of her body.

Ms. Bowman has done an exceptional job of explaining how the disease of anorexia is a "secret, personal and private territory." She drives home the desperation and isolation the disease causes, and portrays in depth the insecurity, self-loathing, fear, and perfectionist tendencies that so many with this affliction share. I wish the publisher had kept the original title of this book, "A Shape of My Own," because that is really what the author is searching for and growing into, a unique essence that is hers alone. She searches for identity, for the thing that sets her apart. Ultimately, this is a story of hope. She has never completely recovered, and still has food rules that she must follow, but she has learned to successfully integrate herself with the authentic world and find peace of mind within herself.
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on July 30, 2010
I am a former anorexic, and have read most of the books on eating disorders that exist. This book comes the closest to describing what went/goes on in my mind. I especially appreciate how Grace Bowman explains how she experiences life differently after "recovery".
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on September 1, 2013
The account of her time as an anorexic takes you right there inside her mind. The fact that she just decided one day to stop is probably accounting the day she snapped, but I would have liked to know more about this time. She also glazes over the fact that there were family secrets no one talks about. These are likely huge parts of the emotional repression that hepled make this disorder...
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on January 6, 2012
I felt sorry for the young girl, but it was difficult to read because 1 year of anorexia does not compare to battles of 10-30 yrs of battling this dreadful diasease. I'm not saying she didn't have anorexia because she obviously did. It is just hard to relate to someone who thinks that suffering for one year( and not even being hospitalalized or sent to an impatient facility) could compare to someone like myself who have dealt with this for years and have been hospitalized and been impatient. Its reallly not the same. I'm really glad that she has conquered her illness and I wish her the best but I don't think this is the book for long time suffers of anorexia. You' ll find their story to be much different. I do wish her the best of luck though and think that this would be a better book for parents of teenagers who are looking for signs of eating disorders so that they can catch it early. Its a very ugly disease and must be taken seriously because it can be deadly.
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