Clare B. Dunkle

Elena Vanishing

By Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2015.
Edited by Ginee Seo.
Companion memoir to Hope and Other Luxuries.
A memoir about adolescent anorexia nervosa.

Elena Vanishing book cover

My daughter Elena makes her debut as an author. Our book, Elena Vanishing, tells the story of her struggles with adolescent anorexia nervosa, which almost killed her. You can read more about the story behind this memoir, as well as see more photos, on her website here.

I need to know the number that's made me beautiful.

I change into my workout clothes and go to the gym. I turn up the music and run on the treadmill till everything feels worse and then feels better.

You didn't get rid of it all, says the voice in my head. You're getting fat right this minute. You can't exercise away those kinds of calories.

I make myself do another half hour on the treadmill. What happened this afternoon wasn't a breakdown. My willpower is still there.

Panting, I drag myself back into the locker room to change back into my street clothes. The women's locker room is empty, so I let myself step onto the scale and read the number.

Is that right? Is that really right?

I read the number again.

That's the best I've ever done!

That's not so great. You could do better, mutters the voice in my head.

Everyone thinks you're a big fat fake.

Seventeen-year-old Elena has a voice in her head that tells her what she needs to do in order to be perfect: Put on her makeup. Be charming and poised. Make top grades. Work two or even three jobs. And never, ever eat.

You're an out-of-control, binge-eating whore.

This is the voice she calls her conscience. And listening to it just might kill her.

As Elena's body starts to break down and she goes from one hospital to another, she comes to understand that her inner voice is her greatest demon. And in order to defeat it, she will have to face a secret she's hidden for years.

This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety is artillery against herself, a girl battling on both sides of a lose-lose war, a girl struggling with anorexia nervosa. Cowritten with her mother, award-winning author Clare B. Dunkle, Elena's memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand this dangerous disorder.

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An American Library Association 2017 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection.

"This authentic, painful story adds a valuable firsthand perspective on eating disorders."
—Publishers Weekly

Chosen for the 2016 TAYSHAS High School Reading List.

"A very powerful narrative. Highly recommended."

Featured on the Diane Rehm Show.

A Junior Library Guild selection.


Jacket art appears courtesy of Chronicle Books.

All webpage text copyright 2003-2017 by Clare B. Dunkle, unless attributed otherwise. All photos copyright 2003-2017 by Joseph R. Dunkle, unless attributed otherwise. You may make one print copy of any page on this site for private or educational use. You may quote the author using short excerpts from this website, provided you attribute the quote. You may use the photos in both print and virtual media to promote the author's books or events. All other copying or use of this website material, either photos or text, is forbidden without the express written consent of the author.