direct support and guidance no doubt complicated an already demanding task. I agree with the author that having hope is a great gift, and this hope ushered them through many tough times. However, no family who struggles with this awful illness should have to do this on their own.

Notwithstanding many obstacles along the way, Brown and her family have regained their footing, which is evidence of their resilience. Brown has since used her expertise as both a parent and writer to help empower other parents so that they may take center stage in the treatment of their children with eating disorders. Brave Girl Eating serves as a reminder that parents are not to blame for their child’s eating disorder; rather, they are a reliable resource in the recovery of their children.

Daniel le Grange, Ph.D., is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience and the director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of Chicago.

{ author’s note }

Impurities creep into every memoir for the simple reason that memory is fallible and you don’t know, when you’re living through an experience, that you’ll someday be writing about it. (Even if you do know, walking around with a tape recorder doesn’t play well in everyday life.) Then of course there’s the question of perspective: two people can live through the same experience and remember it very differently—especially members of the same family.

Those issues become even more urgent when a memoir describes the lives of children, especially your own children, who are vulnerable in a variety of ways and who can’t in any real sense give informed consent to being written about. It’s one thing to expose your own life; it’s quite another to expose the lives of your kids. As a longtime journalist and, now, a professor of journalism, I think a lot about what’s ethical and what isn’t. In this book, I considered the line between openness and exploitation. My intention here is to tell the truth as ethically and as compassionately as possible. To protect my children I’ve given them false names and disguised some of their physical and other characteristics.

Deciding to tell this story was a process for me and my family. We discussed it over a period of months, weighing the potential for good against the possibilities of harm. I give much credit to my daughter Kitty, who overcame her own preference for privacy out of a wish to help others. She’s a brave and unusual young woman.

As for the vagaries of memory, I kept an extremely—one might even say obsessively—detailed journal during Kitty’s illness, partly to keep track of her progress and treatment, and partly to keep myself from drowning in anxiety. In the journal I recorded many conversations more or less verbatim, and recapped others. The events I describe in this book are based on my recollections and on that journal. In a few instances I’ve conflated situations in order to compress the story line, but every conversation and event in this book is true and did happen as described, as far as I recollect.

People who are acutely ill with anorexia and bulimia often read a memoir like this as a guidebook for staying sick—as “thinspiration.” For that reason, I have avoided mention of specific weights, numbers, and other details that might be interpreted as “pro-anorexia” or “pro-bulimia” material. It’s my intention that this book never be used in that way.

{ before }

What I Wish Everyone Knew

Close your eyes. Imagine that you’re standing in a bakery. Not just any bakery—the best bakery in Paris, its windows fogged, crowded with people who jostle for space in front of its long glass cases. The room is fragrant and you can’t take your eyes off the rows of cinnamon rolls and croissants, iced petits fours, flaky napoleons and elephant ears. Every counter holds at least one basket of crusty baguettes, still warm from the oven.

And you’re hungry. In fact, you’re starving. Hunger is a tornado whirling in your chest, a bottomless vortex at your core. Hunger is a tiger sharpening its claws on your tender insides. You stand in front of the glass cases, trying to swallow, but your throat is dry and your stomach clenches and contracts.

You want more than anything to lick the side of an éclair, swirl the custard and chocolate against your tongue. You dream about biting off the end of a cruller, feeling the give of the spongy dough, the brief molecular friction of the glaze against your teeth, flooding your mouth with sweetness.