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Elena Vanishing: A Memoir


Elena Vanishing: A Memoir

Every day Elena Dunkle is disappearing. Her need to be skinny and appear perfect overtakes every other aspect of her life. When she’s in high school, Elena is hospitalized for her eating disorder, but that doesn’t stop her --- she doesn’t eat the food she’s given and she checks her makeup constantly.  Even though she is far from cured, she is released and continues on with her life. Striving to be the perfect daughter, Elena works hard in everything she does. She thrives off of the compliments and envy of others.  However, this doesn’t erase the memory of the other daughter --- Elena’s older, runaway sister, Valerie. It also doesn’t erase the memory of the tragic event that happened to Elena when she was only 13-years-old --- the event that started her quest to be perfect.

Elena continues this quest when she goes on to college. Unfortunately, her eating disorder, hard class schedule and several jobs keep Elena constantly exhausted. When she’s fired from her job as an RA, Elena feels like her life could not get any worse. However, when another tragic event happens, Elena spirals downwards. She goes in and out of hospitalization, and the goal of living a normal, healthy life seems to slip farther and farther away. It is not until Elena acknowledges what happened and learns to grow past it will she be able to conquer the eating disorder that is eating her alive.

"Both [ELENA VANISHING and HOPE AND OTHER LUXERIES: A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia] books are must-reads for anyone whose life has been affected by an eating disorder."

With the help of her mother, Clare B. Dunkle, Elena Dunkle offers a painfully honest look into the life of someone with an eating disorder in her memoir ELENA VANISHING. Beautifully and heart-wrenchingly told from Elena’s point of view, ELENA VANISHING takes readers through the very best and very worst moments of Elena’s life, demonstrating how it was affected by her eating disorder in both minor and major ways. Readers get a glimpse into Elena’s mind and can see what she was thinking when she was dealing with her eating disorder. Passages from her journal entries also help tell Elena’s story.

One of the best parts of ELENA VANISHING is the writing. The vivid storytelling draws readers in and they are immediately invested.  While she does have her struggles, Elena is an incredibly strong young woman. Her relationship with her family is always changing throughout the story, but the love her parents and older sister give her is heartwarming. It’s that love that kept Elena going and on the path of recovery. Readers can see Elena’s mother’s story in her book HOPE AND OTHER LUXERIES: A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia by Clare B. Dunkle released on May 19, 2015. Both books are must-reads for anyone whose life has been affected by an eating disorder. Elena and Clare B. Dunkle’s amazing work on these books offer a unique take on eating disorders, and hopefully their work will help educate others on the harsh reality that is life with an eating disorder.

Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member on May 22, 2015

Elena Vanishing: A Memoir
by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle

  • Publication Date: May 19, 2015
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Young Adult 13+
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • ISBN-10: 1452121516
  • ISBN-13: 9781452121512