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Ardell, Maureen and Cory-Ann Ardell.

Vancouver, Flight Press, c1985. 128pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-919843-02-6. Distributed by Raincoast Books, 112 East 3rd Ave., Vancouver, B.C., V5T 1C8. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Brenda Watson

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Portrait of an Anorexic is the story of Maureen Ardell from age fifteen to eighteen told from two points of view, her mother's and her own. During those years Maureen was diagnosed as having anorexia nervosa and treated for the condition. Maureen's portion of the book began as an English assignment, a journal to record her experiences while hospitalized. Corry-Ann's was added to present a mother's experience with the disease and treatment process. It was published to "be of help and encouragement both to anorexics and to their families."

This book does not attempt to duplicate the medical descriptions of the illness found in many other books recently published on anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. Its value lies in the simplicity with which it is told and the hope that emerges in Maureen's case. This is not a sensationalized account of progress and setback, hope and despair. It is the simple story of the diagnosis of anorexia, trial and error with doctors and treatment, and the hospitalization and slow, steady progress Maureen makes in overcoming her problems. The mother's story is honest and poignant. The guilt and examination of self, family, and marriage that a parent faces when a child develops what is thought to be a pyschological illness are movingly recalled. Again the reader sees hope emerge as Cory-Ann accepts Maureen's illness and refuses to let guilt overcome her. Epilogues by mother and daughter give us a post-hospital update and hope that, while the battle continues, Maureen is still on the road to complete recovery.

Maureen lives in British Columbia and the reader gets a candid look at the medical facilities available for treating anorexia in that province. Maureen begins with a family doctor in Cranbrook, next a local psychiatrist treats her, and finally she is admitted to Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver.

The Cornell's have succeeded in writing their story in a simple, dignified style that should be of help to other sufferers and their families. Recommended.

Brenda Watson, Victoria, B.C.
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