Nervosa by Hayley Gold

Unflinchingly honest and darkly humorous, Nervosa is a graphic memoir about disordered eating, chronic illness, and a profound relationship with hope.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is not a phase, a fad, or a choice. It is a debilitating illness, manifested in a distorted relationship with food, but which actually has more to do with issues of control. It is often a puzzle for doctors, therapists, parents, and friends. And so those who suffer from it are belittled, or tragically misunderstood, not only by society but by the healthcare system meant to treat it.

Nervosa is a no-holds-barred, richly textured portrait of one young woman’s experience. In her vividly imagined retelling, Hayley Gold lays bare a callous medical system seemingly disinterested in the very patients it is supposed to treat. And traces how her own life was irrevocably damaged by both the system and her own disorder. With brutal honesty and witty sarcastic humor, Gold offers a remarkably candid exploration of the search for hope in the darkness.

Reading Nervosa was akin to probing a gap in my jaw where a tooth was just removed, it hurt but I was unable to resist poking the hole with my tongue until the sensation of pain overwhelmed me.

God, I don’t know what to say really, this book is so good, I cried, I got angry and I put the book down one less time than I picked it up to read because I felt compelled to witness Hayley’s story. If you have had experiences with mental health, dysfunctional family relationships, run-ins with doctors and the medical world in general then this book may trigger you (remember that it is ok to put the book down if this happens).

Nervosa is important, it is the story of a life so far and as bleak as it gets it is still hopeful and as I get older I cherish hope wherever I find it!

So yes this is a short review, Nervosa is good – great even but it is painful and yet hopeful too. I think you should read it carefully. It is out now wherever you get your books.

Thanks to Street Noise Books who provided the review copy I read.

Street Noise is publishing some of the best non-fiction graphic narratives that I have ever read, I think you should check them out if you haven’t already!

Hayley Gold is a comic book writer and artist. She studied cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her first graphic novel, Letters to Margaret, published in 2021, is an exploration of culture wards through crossword puzzles and humor. Her work has been published in such anthologies as The Strumpet and World War 3 Illustrated. Hayley lives in New York City. She loves rabbits and the color cobalt blue.

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