I just finished reading Zoe Letting go by Nora Price It’s a very “interesting, as in weird book.
Zoe is dropped off at an eating disorder center in MA. Which at first made me really happy because I’m from MA. I know it’s a fictional place but still. Sadly it’s not in the boston area! It said in a rural area so cut off from everyone to the point no one could run away. It’s a huge victorian style house. So Zoe is brought there having no idea why she is there. Rather then being furious, or outwardly expressing her feelings she just let’s the process push her along. She’s extremely observant noticing patterns around her and reading people well but all this is within her own mind and a lot of the conversations with the five other girls turn into confrontations. It’s hard for her to relate as the other girls are clearly anorexic, it takes her one full day to figure out this is a place for people with eating disorders! She doesn’t feel she is. What bothers her the most is not being able to talk with her best friend Elise. The program gives much room for free time, as the only activities there are eating large amounts of extremely healthy food, cooking, gardening, seeing an individual therapist and “group downtime.” Basically just hanging out. So when not engaged in these activities she spends a lot of time journaling her memories of her complicated friendship with Elise and writing letters. Letters that her therapist Alexandra promises she mails.
Alexandra is the only staff member with any substance. Devon cooks, angela makes a few announcements. Alexandra is a good therapist I feel in that she’s friendly and observant. The emotional work for Zoe does not involve an eating disorder, and I found it frustrating that this work happened at the tail end of her stay there and in such a short period of time like two days. For the rest of the book it was about telling her history with her friend. Alexandra wasn’t actively questioning her but rather letting her tell her story. She did have some anxiety attacks which I feel were a clue to her inner emotions and I wish these had been really used as openings for deep emotional work. It’s hard for me as a reader to believe that she came to terms with the main issue driving her depression and anxiety and integrated her feelings on it in two days. And spent four or five weeks eating cooking gardening, solving a clothing mystery and that’s about it.
I love reading books about teens or anyone in residential treatment/ psychiatric unit/ therapy because I want to see how well it’s portrayed. This however is not well portrayed. The treatment center itself is plain weird. And logistically there’s no way a person with an eating disorder could benefit by their form of treatment. They couldn’t physically ingest the amount and type of foods provided. People with such issues being left to their own devices in real life would lead to cutting, eating disorder behavior purging and other unsafe things. I would rather have the place at least be a realistic representation of treatment.
Actually I’d rather Zoe be in a general mental health program, or really this story could have taken place with her at home going to weekly therapy or group therapy. But have it be in a proper treatment rich environment where the unvaling of her issues could be steady throughout the book and get to the heart of things in a deeper way than can be done at the last chapters of the book. Oh and lastly, in case you want to cook some of the lovely food shown in this book Zoe takes down recepies in her journal! She hates the food how could you not, but she takes down legit recipies.
Let me know what you all think. Looking online I’m not the only one who thinks this way. But some love the book so yeah
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