Review of Elena Vanishing by Clare and Elena Dunkle

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(I was kindly sent a review copy of this book by Abrams and Chronicle. My thoughts on the book haven’t been affected as a result.)

TW: eating disorders and mental illness.

Elena Vanishing is a memoir, jointly written by Elena and Clare Dunkle. It tells the story of Elena’s experiences with being hospitalised for five weeks in four hospitals to recover from anorexia nervosa and cardiomyopathy when she was in high school.

Talking about mental health is something that matters really strongly to me, and the first thing I really want to note about this book is that it is honest. To me, it’s a raw and open look at the way that Elena dealt with her eating disorder. Very little is held back in this book, and I think this is makes the book a much more honest way of looking at mental illness.

That said, it’s at times a really difficult read. Because of the fact it holds very little back, it makes it tough, and I think that whilst readers do need to be wary of that when they first delve in, I also think it gives it the potential to start conversations.

It’s also a really well written book too. It’s told in small stories from the four weeks that she’s in the four hospitals she found herself in, and I think these individual stories are a unique way of recounting her time in hospital.

I definitely recommend the book. Like I said, it’s not an easy read, but I at least think it’s an important one.

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