Frequently distressing but ultimately hopeful, this is the heartfelt story of one teen’s journey to overcome severe anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphia. With her mother KC Tillman, Bryn Tillman relates how she successfully battled what she calls “Ed”—an abusive and controlling eating disorder with a high mortality rate.
The authors use a candid, diary-like re-telling of their story. Each chapter is headed “BRYN” or “KC,” to clue readers in on who is talking. As Bryn narrates her psychological and physical struggles from deep within, her mother KC describes her parenting challenges and her own mental health wellness issues.
Recollections and journal entries include narratives contrasting their experiences. For example, when KC takes Bryn’s brother snowboarding, feeling positive about leaving Bryn with friends, she shares that she receives a message from Bryn saying that she wants to die and has never felt more like starving herself. Bryn then includes her own journal entry on how she felt that day.
KC writes passionately about her challenges keeping her daughter alive during years of treatment and recovery. She notes that she lives in Colorado within sight of the Rocky Mountains; the “Fourteener” of the title references peaks exceeding 14,000 feet and became a metaphor for the difficult process.
Overall, this is a sympathetic portrayal of their fight that gives readers interesting insights on how anorexia affects sufferers and their families. Although the format, with its dual narratives, may occasionally seem redundant, and some passages feel misplaced in the narrative, the book’s structure aptly reveals how the authors’ daily struggles eventually led to a slow but steady victory.
Rather than general readers, the book is best appreciated by those fighting anorexia and their loved ones, who can take hope from this honest daughter/mother story of their battle and Bryn’s ultimate recovery from this life-threatening mental disorder.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.