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Homesick: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Finding Hope Paperback – May 3, 2005

3.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This memoir about bulimia and its effects by Ralph Lauren's niece alternates between the gruesomely fascinating and tediously sad. Thirty-one-year-old Lauren, whose father (Ralph's brother) heads Ralph Lauren Men's Design, depicts in excruciating detail her odyssey through bingeing, purging, the debilitating sickness that ensues and her struggle to heal. Her story spans her life from the age of nine, when she's rejected by the prestigious School of American Ballet and subsequently embarks on her first attempt to starve herself into the perfect dancer's physique, to her torments as an adult running the gamut of traditional doctors and New Age healers as she tries to recover from a painful and depressing illness presumably brought on by her compulsive fasting, bingeing, purging and exercising. The pressure from her family to be beautiful and her alienation from her own body emerge as Lauren minutely describes her agonies over what she'll eat at each next meal, the clothing choices of everyone she meets and the intimate details of her bowel movements. This book raises the question of whether contemporary fashion standards pressure young women into the destructive behaviors of anorexia and bulimia. Lauren is intelligent, creative and a skilled writer, and she evokes empathy. She has a few encouraging epiphanies, as when, at age 30, she attends a Ralph Lauren fashion show and realizes, "The clothing is incredible as always, but who needs it?" The book's abrupt ending and dearth of conclusions, however, disturbingly portend that the reader may come away with more insights than the author.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Jenny Lauren's memoir should be required reading for every teenage girl in America. Like the author, this book is honest, hilarious, brave, tenacious, and shameless, in all the right ways."
-- Pam Houston, author of Sight Hound

"[A] story about learning to accept one's body as one's home."
-- Teen Vogue

"Lauren is intelligent, creative, and a skilled writer, and she evokes empathy."
-- Publishers Weekly

"[O]ne of the most harrowing personal accounts of living with an eating disorder ever published."
-- The Daily Telegraph (London)

"Homesick should be required reading for all pre- and adolescent girls...and any parent who wants to know what's really going on with their daughters."

- Tama Janowitz, author of Peyton Amberg and Slaves of New York

"As urgent and intimate as a best friend's phone call, Homesick chronicles Jenny Lauren's descent into an Alice in Wonderland medical nightmare. But Homesick is not about sickness. It's about persistence, strength, and the awesome power of one woman's will to fight for herself and get better."

- Jillian Medoff, author of Hunger Point and Good Girls Gone Bad

"Almost every girl wakes up one morning wondering whether she's too fat -- but if you're Jenny Lauren, that's a particularly loaded question. The niece of fashion icon, Ralph Lauren, Homesick is a home run for the issue of eating disorders in America. Jenny Lauren courageously chronicles her own battle with bulimia in this raw account, which finally lead me to understand the intricacies of this illness. Her story will certainly help others like herself and their families and actually help save lives."

- Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

"Never have I read a more honest account of a life in turmoil and the powerful desire to reshape it. In Homesick Jenny Lauren confronts her 'fashion world' family, her doctors, therapists, and -- most of all -- herself, and her ruling passion to starve. This memoir is bare-bones beautiful."

- Barbara Robinette Moss, author of Change Me into Zeus's Daughter

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743456998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743456999
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,929,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Mitchell on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have never read anything where the author is so frustratingly self-involved and yet so amazingly lacking in self-awareness. The whole book is a poorly written festival of whining.

The writer spends the book searching for a cure to one ailment after another--all using her parent's money. Anytime they don't automatically pony up with the money she whines until they give in (bad enabling parents, bad, bad!).

I was amazed that anyone could go through the process of writing such a book and not start to gain some sort of self-awareness. For example: Jenny complains that she needs an operation. The doctor does not want to do it. Jennie demands it. After having the operation she's told by some lay person that the operation was a bad idea. Jenny then rails at the doctor for butchering her. Has she forgotten that she was the one that demanded it against medical advice?

The saga of how she took more pain medication than she was supposed to and then got painfully constipated is another example. (Jenny, if you're reading, don't take more pain medication than you're prescribed, and if you do, accept the consequences, don't blame it on others!)

Then we get to hear how hard she works at getting better by spending weeks and weeks at a spa (yet again spending her parents money while contributing nothing to society--unless you want to argue for the Bush theory of "trickle down economics").

The final insane leg of the journey is a trip to South America (yet again paid for by money wheedled from her parents) to visit a healing guru. As much time or more is spent talking about what kind of souvenirs she bought as anything about her visit with the guru (who charges a fee for bottled holy water in the gift shop. Yes the healing guru has a gift shop!
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Format: Hardcover
I expected very little from this book, to be honest. But how wrong I was. Each time I was about to conclude Ms. Lauren is a spoiled brat, she would surprise me with her actions, intelligence and most of all, her elegant and honest writing.
It was sad, however, to read about all the time and talent Ms. Lauren has wasted on her disease. She is clearly a sensitive and thoughtful person who on some emotional level cannot get past a desire for the perfection of an imagined life. Sad because so many women fall prey to this and end up ruining the natural beauty that comes from inner peace.
Not only could I not put this book down - spent all day Saturday engrossed - I have not stopped thinking about it. Ms. Lauren grew up with grueling expectations of beauty. Her discipline was Olympian and she paid a steep, horrible price for trying so desperately to control her body.
I am so thankful that Ms. Lauren was courageous enough to show the unglamorous side of anorexia. When I was growing up attending an all-girls' private school during the 1980s, anorexia was fashionable - the thinner the winner....We had no concept of nutrition, of muscle tone or of antioxidants and healing therapy. It was an era of laxatives, ipecac, vomiting and self-denial.
Unfortunately many of the books that came out about anorexia at that time- "The Best Little Girl in the World," "Second Star to the Right" and "Goodbye Paper Doll" - all made anorexia sound like a great way to get attention, fit into lots of clothes, and even find boyfriends.
Thanks to writers like Marya Hornbacher and now, Jenny Lauren,the uglier side of eating disorders is being revealed. Thank-you to Ms. Lauren. I hope she will keep us all updated on her progress.
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Format: Paperback
I was genuinely and honestly deeply offended by this book. As someone who has struggled with different eating disorders over the years, I painfully read this book wondering how someone who was given so much in life could take it ALL for granted. Take it all for granted and have the audacity to blame doctors, therapist, her parents, and her family for all of her problems. It genuinely makes me cringe. I only continued reading thinking that she would have some kind of epiphany and realize just how spoiled she is and try and take a least some responsibility in her life, but was nothing. Absolutely nothing.
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Format: Paperback
Doing loose math, Jenny Lauren wrote this book when she was about 32 in 2004; she mentions being 30 when she went to Brazil. What happened to the chronic pain and other problems she was experiencing? She doesn't explain how John of God helped (or cured?) her. The book ends without resolving anything. She might've added an epilogue in the 2005 paperback edition.

I think her describing every piece of clothing and every outfit of anyone she hung out with or met, including family members & herself, was written tongue-in-cheek. I thought that part was clever and interesting.

I felt kinship toward Jenny when she re-read her letters from camp. Deja vu when I came across letters I had sent my dad as a teenager 45 years ago - every one with the "I lost 10 pounds" "I'm on a diet" spiel. How sad. In fact, I was simply a tall, beautiful, shapely girl who wore glasses and was simply not his ideal.

Listen up fathers (and mothers): speak kind, meaningful words to your daughters, not comment on her body - we're very attuned to you and thrive on your acceptance. That's how we grow up emotionally healthy and eventually pick good men.
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