Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder
  • Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder
  • Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder

Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder

by Nadia Shivack

"Every day, meal by meal, millions of people suffer from eating disorders. I am one of them."

Nadia Shivack was fourteen years old when she met Ed, her eating disorder. Sometimes like an alien in her body, sometimes like a lover, Ed was unpredictable and exciting, but ultimately always dangerous and destructive.

At an inpatient unit unit of a hospital

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"Every day, meal by meal, millions of people suffer from eating disorders. I am one of them."

Nadia Shivack was fourteen years old when she met Ed, her eating disorder. Sometimes like an alien in her body, sometimes like a lover, Ed was unpredictable and exciting, but ultimately always dangerous and destructive.

At an inpatient unit unit of a hospital where she was taken for treatment, Nadia wrote and drew on napkins after meals in order to keep the food in and calm the outrageous voices in her head. These pictures, together with others drawn on notebook paper and a variety of other surfaces, tell an unflinchingly honest story of a woman's lifelong battle with anorexia and bulimia. Raw, brave, and brilliant, Nadia's journey takes readers to the intimate corners of these misunderstood diseases. You will never think about eating disorders in the same way again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this heartfelt, honest memoir, the author uses a graphic novel format to reveal her anguished, ongoing struggle with bulimia. Shivack's story unfolds largely through rudimentary drawings with captions and speech balloons, many created on paper napkins while she was being treated for her eating disorder. Setting the scene, the author initially depicts her rather contentious relationship with her mother, a Holocaust survivor who "had very strong ideas about food," insisting that her three daughters finish everything on their dinner plates even though she herself ate only once a day ("just enough to keep herself going, not a bite more"). Shivack notes that her eating disorder (which she depicts as a monster named "Ed") started when she began swimming competitively in high school-her coach criticized those swimmers who needed to lose weight. Feeling a part of that category, Shivack launched a regimen of binging, purging and compulsive exercising. In a poignant drawing, she likens her daily routine as a teen to a perilous climb up a steep, jagged mountain. Her dizzying downward spiral is sobering indeed, as her bulimia takes over her life and she becomes suicidal. Yet Shivack ends on a hopeful note, vowing, as an adult, to continue on her road to recovery. Statistics about eating disorders are found throughout the book, which concludes with a list of resources. Though intensely personal and-perhaps of necessity-repetitious, this harrowing chronicle may well provide support and solace to teens facing a similar crisis. Ages 12-up. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Nadia Shivack has suffered from bulimia and depression for thirty years. While hospitalized for treatment, she discovered that drawing helped to distract and soothe her, especially after eating. This book is written and can be used and understood on a number of different levels. First, it is a memoir of a woman who is dealing with an eating disorder. Second, it is a graphic representation of feelings and the personification of some of those feelings, giving voice to the monster within. And finally, it is a series of facts about eating disorders, interspersed within the autobiographical information. Nad�s eating disorder has a name, Ed, short for E.D. The drawings themselves are simplistic representations of people, monsters and uncomplicated scenes, and most are surrounded by thought and word bubbles, depicting the myriad distracting thoughts of a bulimic trying to escape from her disease. The text is brutally honest about the difficulty of fighting this disease, the small steps forward and the many failures and backward steps. By the end of the story, Nad is finally at some level of peace, but still fighting, even though she is a grown woman over the age of 40. She offers this book as a way to teach young women about the possibility for success in beating the disease and to give them a measure of hope. In short, this book is realistic and terrifying, but ultimately hopeful. Reviewer: Wendy M. Smith-D�Arezzo
VOYA - Snow Wildsmith
Shivack's problems with food began early in her life. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor who forced her girls to finish everything on their plates, but who would not allow herself to eat more than one meal a day. Her father never thought that anything that his wife or daughters did was good enough. By the time she was a teen, Shivack was swimming competitively, furthering her descent into an eating disorder. Shivack started with diets and then began binging, moving on to purging. When she tried to open up to her family, she was told that she needed to learn self-control. For years, she fought "the E.D." (eating disorder), until finally being checked into a residential treatment facility when she was forty. This graphic work is a fascinating portrait of illness, filled with drawings and paintings created by Shivack to illustrate her tortured inner world. Her art is powerful and visceral, putting a face on a disorder that strikes millions of people. Teens will identify with the multimedia collage of images and words and will appreciate that Shivack does not offer any easy answers. Her battle with her disorder is still going on, even while she studies to become a mental health professional. Her story is highly recommended for all libraries.
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
Shivack's personal narrative and graphic-novel-style depiction of her eating disorder, including anorexia and bulimia, is disturbing, revealing, and ultimately enlightening. Chronicled on napkins, notebook paper, or whatever scrap was available, Nadia's story unfolds as she endures it. She refers to her eating disorder as "Ed," draws it as a dragon, and details its hold on her life and sanity starting at age 14. This is a work that speaks to the victims, revealing the inner turmoil, possible causes, and pain. Especially poignant are the pictures, such as the anatomy of a flower with a torment of words on each petal describing her angst while a small figure leans over the central blue seed, the toilet bowl. The drawings are laid out on yellow pages, while a hindsight commentary about what was happening appears in white type over black boxes. Facts about the illness are presented in darker yellow boxes and each is linked to a specific Web site at the conclusion. A list of resources for intervention is appended. While the handwritten text and complex images are occasionally hard to decipher, readers will be motivated to stick with them as they decode the messages. The time it takes to examine the text and drawings heightens the book's impact. Filled with harrowing honesty, this presentation provides a portal to understanding a devastating illness.
—Janet S. ThompsonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Shivack hoarded candy in her sock drawer when she was six years old. Her svelte mother, a Holocaust survivor, ate only enough food to stay alive. At 14, when her swimming coach criticized her weight, she plunged into a lifelong eating disorder. Shivack's stirring memoir, largely illustrated with pictures drawn on napkins when she was in treatment for anorexia and bulimia, creatively chronicles her dangerous, decades-long obsession with food and her exhausting fight for control. Her whimsical cartoons range from adolescent doodlings to vivid, visceral paintings. One piece, captioned "This is what happens when you purge," shows a girl's naked pink body with extra, dismembered and split limbs, a finger down a throat and a bright orange head. It is stark and beautiful. Unfortunately, the riveting personal account is punctuated by clinical facts about eating disorders (in all caps!) that somewhat detract from the work's raw artistry. But, no matter. This intimate, often brutal portrait of an enduring illness will be eye-opening for the uninitiated, and painfully familiar to those in its clutches. (afterword, eating disorder resources) (Nonfiction. YA)

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Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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