Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Inner Hunger: A Young Woman’s Struggle Through Anorexia and Bulimia

by Marianne Apostolides

After 10 years of struggling with anorexia, binging, and bulimia, Marianne Apostolides woke up one morning so disgusted and tired with herself that instead of carrying out her usual routine of gathering food and purging herself, she sat down at the computer and began to write.

Three years – and much grief – later, Apostolides finished Inner Hunger, a serious work of non-fiction that delves into the hellish decade that Apostolides spent in the eating disordered world.

For Apostolides, as for the millions of girls and women who have experienced an eating disorder, monitoring food can be a way of feeling in control when they feel helpless in other areas of their lives.

But when Apostolides’s emaciated, undernourished body began screaming for food, she found comfort and solace in binging on excessive amounts and then forcing herself to throw it all up.

Faced with challenges of moving from childhood to adulthood, the author relates how dysfunctional family dynamics contributed to her illusion that being skinny was the only way to be good, beautiful, clever, and popular.

Her honesty is admirable (she describes everything in great detail), but there is an element of self-wallowing and endless self-evaluation that begins to grate after a while. No one else seems to exist in Apostolides’s world, other than in relation to how they measure up compared with her – more or less beautiful, more or less skinny, etc.

The book’s strongest feature is plentiful advice and resources, from the utopian (and unrealistic) – “provide adequate funding for schools so that they have not only proper supplies, appropriate class sizes, and substantial teacher training/support, but also a full-time counselor on staff to deal with the myriad needs of America’s young people,” – to unique, sensible suggestions such as “regulate the diet industry with the same intensity applied to regulation of the cigarette industry.”

Inner Hunger is a valuable resource on eating disorders, but owing to the anguishing journey the reader must embark on with Apostolides, it’s a trying read.