cover image Nervosa


Hayley Gold. Street Noise, $21.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-951491-24-6

Gold chronicles her lengthy struggle with anorexia in an unflinching debut memoir filled with sharply recalled details and darkly funny observations. Affected by her father’s verbal abuse and her mother’s inability to stand up to him, she developed an obsession with counting calories at a young age and was first hospitalized with an eating disorder at 12. The medicalization of her condition and constant pressure to gain weight (“Stop crying, it burns calories,” scolds a doctor) made her more body-conscious than ever, and her fellow patients schooled her in weight-loss tricks. Eventually she wound up at Westchester, a former asylum “right out of a storybook” where the staff was quick to hook uncooperative patients up to feeding tubes. Gold’s gestural artwork is expressive, and her analytical personality—her one great pleasure while hospitalized is mastering crossword puzzles—comes through visually in her fondness for drawing diagrams, floor plans, and flowcharts. Her anorexia, meanwhile, appears as a shadow self who sneers at offers of help. The narrative stretches a little long, as if Gold was afraid to leave out a single memory, and her teenage self’s snarky defensiveness can become grating. But her frank insights bring readers intimately into the emotions of living with an eating disorder. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Creative Book Services. (Apr.)