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Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia Book Cover ArtworkIn Times Of Trouble “Hungry” A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia. By: Shiela and Lisa Himmel.
Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia

The irony is obvious: Sheila Himmel is the restaurant critic for the San Jose Mercury News, winner of the James Beard award. Her workplace is situated in the heart of America’s foodie revolution, where the tyranny of French cuisine was long ago rejected in favor of fresh, organic, local and simple. But her daughter and co-author, Lisa, once a kid with a healthy, inquisitive appetite, suffers from anorexia and bulimia — disorders that nearly took her life.

In alternating segments, the two women describe their separate realities. Sheila is well aware of our culture’s dysfunctional relationship with food: the overeating and the obsessive dieting, the passing fads, the simplistic labeling of types of food as either good or bad, and she analyzes her daughter’s problems within this larger context. Lisa’s contributions are narrowly autobiographical.

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This memoir will prove useful to those suffering from eating disorders, and their families will find it informative too. Other readers, though, will not find much here to enjoy. There’s too much self-searching and too little storytelling, and while Sheila speaks of the delights of eating, she doesn’t evoke them. Instead, we get tedious descriptions of everyone’s eating habits, like this one from Lisa: “More often than not I ordered a junior scoop of cookies and cream, which had a minty undertone in its creamy vanilla base with generous chunks of Oreos. I still prefer my chunks of cookies nestled within the creamy texture of vanilla, but sometimes I branch out into the land of peppermint. . . .”