Girls at 17 Swann Street (Zgheib) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points help start a discussion for THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET … and then take off on your own:

1. Talk about Anorexia Nervosa (AN) as an illness. What preconceptions of AN did you have prior to reading The Girls of 17 Swann Street? What have you learned that surprises you—symptoms, perhaps, which you were unaware of?

2. Anna says, "I am twenty-six years old. My body feels sixty-two." What does she mean? Ever feel that way?

3. What do readers learn about Anna's background that might have led her to become anorexic? What, for instance, does AN have to with the need for control in ones life … or a lack of self-acceptance?

4. What has the medical/scientific community learned about the causes of AN?

5. What is the difference between Bulimia and Anorexia?

6. How does Anna's disease affect her relationship with her husband?

7. Readers have talked about the authenticity contained in Yara Zgheib's handling of the story. Do you agree? If so, in what makes the novel feel "authentic"?

8. Anna says, “I have books to read, places to see, babies to make, birthday cakes to taste. I even have unused birthday wishes to spare.”

So what am I doing here?”

If you were a friend, or a counselor, to Anna, what would you say to her?

9. Have you, or people you know, suffered from eating disorders? Can you talk about those experiences? How do Anna's experiences compare?

10. Does the book's structure—told through a series of vignettes from Anna's past, as well as her experiences at the treatment center—enhance or disrupt your reading experience? Would you have preferred a more continuous narrative flow? Why or why not?

11. Talk about the other characters' struggles with their illness? Do you find one character more sympathetic than others?

12. How do the other patients at 17 Swann Street help one each other overcome their illnesses? How do they support and learn from one another?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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