When Anorexia Came to Visit: Families talk about how an eating disorder invaded their lives

I've been quite busy lately, and my to-read stack was getting out of control. I fell behind, and so it was a really cool surprise to finally get to read the final version of Bev Mattock's book, When Anorexia Came to Visit today. You never know what gems are just sitting there.

I have a rule that I don't review books I don't genuinely like. I don't endorse books, even of friends, unless I'm ready to live with having my friends and readers go out and buy it and tell me about it later.

I really, really like this book. And not because I wrote a little intro or because I  know several of the families inside, including the author -- though that is an extra thrill.

I like this book, and I'm endorsing it warmly, because it tells the world what I know is true and important. It shows real families facing eating disorders with all the heroic, courageous, exhausting love that I know is going on all over the world. If we want to beat the stereotypes and truly change the way parents and families are regarded this is a 20-dose package of that medicine. These perfectly normal yet also extraordinarily challenged families are the antidote to images of over-involved, uncaring, crazed, clueless parents. Yet each is unique: there is no one solution or one lesson.

Each family's story, wonderfully edited by Mattocks, is a view to family commitment and engagement.

Families who have been part of the F.E.A.S.T. and Around the Dinner Table community will cheer for the families and even recognize a few!

Another feature of this book is that all these families are in the UK. This adds to our library of family stories that includes My Kid is Back with Australian families and Just Tell Her To Stop with US families. The healthcare systems and culture of each country contribute to the relevance of each family's story. Although I considered myself familiar with the particular issues in the UK I learned a great deal more here than I knew before.


  1. Thank you so much, Laura, for this review which I totally didn't expect and totally appreciate in our fight to raise awareness of what families go through beyond the confines of the consulting room. You give me credit, however, as I say at the end of my introduction to the book:

    "This book could never have been written without the help of these 20 fantastic families. In many cases all I have done, as the author, is to edit the transcript of a taped conversation or tweak a detailed written account. So, strictly, I should be calling myself editor, not author. These 20 families and the three wonderful people who provided the Foreword, Preface and Introduction have written this book, not me. And I am immensely appreciative of their help, dedication and input.

    "Finally I must thank the young people themselves for demonstrating the courage, grit and determination to fight the eating disorder and win. Being a parent is tough, but being someone who has fought to break free from this insidious illness is even tougher.

    "Our sons and daughters are truly awesome.

    "And so are their parents."

  2. Thanks - Im gonna get this book as it sounds interesting. Even books I dont like give a different perspective on what is a killer illness. Thanks and have a great xmas!

  3. As a former compulsive overeater, anorexic and bulimic - and now a mother, I am alarmed at the food issues I see with girls as young as 7! Many of these problems originate in the early years (as they did with me), and unless the parents acquire a greater awareness about these things, and possibly deal with their own issues surrounding food, the victims may be left to their own devices to recover. But if that happens, it might be much later, whereas pain could have been avoided if the problems were dealt with sooner. I started a blog for those individuals dealing with their issues today (as I am), called saatchirad.blogspot.com. I am so glad to know your blog is here! Thank you and Merry Christmas!


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