Hot Best Seller

Malnourished: A Memoir of Sisterhood and Hunger

Availability: Ready to download

How do you begin to process your sister starving herself to death? For Cinthia Ritchie, writing about it was her method of coping, a means of searching for answers to long-unspoken questions. After her sister died due to complications from an eating disorder, no one in Ritchie's family knew how to talk about what had happened, so no one did. It was as if she died twice, How do you begin to process your sister starving herself to death? For Cinthia Ritchie, writing about it was her method of coping, a means of searching for answers to long-unspoken questions. After her sister died due to complications from an eating disorder, no one in Ritchie's family knew how to talk about what had happened, so no one did. It was as if she died twice, once in real life and again in family memory. In this stunning memoir, Ritchie traces the tragedy of her sister's too-short life back to its beginning--their stepfather's Pennsylvania farm, where both girls hungered for approval and affection during long, languid days and yearned for protection through endless, dark nights. She pierces the veins of her own life, along with its bones of truth and muscles of denial, interrogating the ways she likewise resisted the force of her own appetites. Malnourished dives deep into what we dare not speak--secrets, obsessions, deviations--demonstrating in gripping, lyrical prose how the damage done early in one's life colors the taste of everything to come. And how the mouth filled with blood and stones might finally yield to gasps of clear air, discovering the texture of open terrain, a roadmap of back trails leading to a kind of recovery. Malnourished is a book for anyone who has ever experienced lack, and for anyone who has nevertheless loved.


Compare

How do you begin to process your sister starving herself to death? For Cinthia Ritchie, writing about it was her method of coping, a means of searching for answers to long-unspoken questions. After her sister died due to complications from an eating disorder, no one in Ritchie's family knew how to talk about what had happened, so no one did. It was as if she died twice, How do you begin to process your sister starving herself to death? For Cinthia Ritchie, writing about it was her method of coping, a means of searching for answers to long-unspoken questions. After her sister died due to complications from an eating disorder, no one in Ritchie's family knew how to talk about what had happened, so no one did. It was as if she died twice, once in real life and again in family memory. In this stunning memoir, Ritchie traces the tragedy of her sister's too-short life back to its beginning--their stepfather's Pennsylvania farm, where both girls hungered for approval and affection during long, languid days and yearned for protection through endless, dark nights. She pierces the veins of her own life, along with its bones of truth and muscles of denial, interrogating the ways she likewise resisted the force of her own appetites. Malnourished dives deep into what we dare not speak--secrets, obsessions, deviations--demonstrating in gripping, lyrical prose how the damage done early in one's life colors the taste of everything to come. And how the mouth filled with blood and stones might finally yield to gasps of clear air, discovering the texture of open terrain, a roadmap of back trails leading to a kind of recovery. Malnourished is a book for anyone who has ever experienced lack, and for anyone who has nevertheless loved.

35 review for Malnourished: A Memoir of Sisterhood and Hunger

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Brennan

    What a heart-wrenching memoir this is, not just chronicling the loss of a sister but also depicting in terms often stark but always loving the ways one family coped with its suffering. Ritchie shows us in profound detail how family dysfunction can work its way into the psyches of the children, how they learn to act out and fight back. These sisters love one another with physical unrulinesspunching, pulling hair, scratching, drawing bloodand they run in muddy fields and lick cows and eat dirt, as What a heart-wrenching memoir this is, not just chronicling the loss of a sister but also depicting in terms often stark but always loving the ways one family coped with its suffering. Ritchie shows us in profound detail how family dysfunction can work its way into the psyches of the children, how they learn to act out and fight back. These sisters love one another with physical unruliness—punching, pulling hair, scratching, drawing blood—and they run in muddy fields and lick cows and eat dirt, as if trying to find what’s real in the world because they hope their home doesn’t represent the future. There’s an ineffectual mother and an abusive step-father, and the girls’ wounds come to them early. But this is also a story of evolving and surviving. Deena, the sister who adapts the hard way, develops the eating disorder that will eventually kill her, while Cinthia acts out in a different way with her body. Gifting it to men. Abusing it. Eventually training it, while at the same time finding her own path to becoming a writer. The birth of her son was transformational and maybe life-saving. The writing in Malnourished is exceptional. It’s vivid, colorful, deeply emotional, and riotously energetic. Often violent too, but sometimes violent images suit violent memories. There’s penetrating language on every page of this book. This is the story of how two quite similar children evolve into different women, one who was unable to conquer her inner demons and one who survived and came to discover her best self. It’s an inspiring story but chilling at times, because one hard lesson it delivers is that we sometimes can’t overcome things that happen to us in childhood. Like Faulkner said, The past isn’t even past. I bought a pre-publication copy of Malnourished directly from the publisher, which is how I got my hands on it before the release date

  2. 5 out of 5

    Luanne Castle

    Cinthia Ritchies memoir Malnourished is a strange and beautiful trek into the heart of a family. Ritchie has three sisters, and all four girls/women have been tragically affected by their upbringing in a home with a predatory stepfather, a mother who will not see the truth, and a deceased father. While Ritchies sisters death from anorexia is the catalyst for the book, the subject is Ritchies survival story. She shares how she and her sister Deena grew up together, how their relationship expanded Cinthia Ritchie’s memoir Malnourished is a strange and beautiful trek into the heart of a family. Ritchie has three sisters, and all four girls/women have been tragically affected by their upbringing in a home with a predatory stepfather, a mother who will not see the truth, and a deceased father. While Ritchie’s sister’s death from anorexia is the catalyst for the book, the subject is Ritchie’s survival story. She shares how she and her sister Deena grew up together, how their relationship expanded and contracted over time, how she and Deena diverged in their responses to life, and where they were similar. While Ritchie claims never to have been an anorexic, she has a complicated relationship with food. Ritchie has exhibited starvation and other dangerous symptoms of emotional distress and control over her body. In this memoir, Ritchie manages to open up a space where we can think, discuss, soul-search human relationships with food as emotionally-charged metaphor and how that power plays out on our bodies. Reading this story gave me insight into how personalities and desires are shaped by experience. For example, Ritchie is a serious runner who craves being outdoors. By reading Malnourished, I was able to feel what it would be like to need to run, to sleep outside under the stars. A small bedroom offers no place for a child to run from a menace that lurks inside the house, one which makes the walls complicit with the stepfather. What I’ve written here might sound like Ritchie explains all this in the book. While she does reflect on her experiences, her gorgeous, lyrical writing does not “tell” the reader, so much as allow the reader into her world to figure things out for herself. Most importantly, Ritchie’s generosity in baring herself for scrutiny and understanding is such a gift to every reader. Malnourished is not a comfortable read. It’s a work of art that nudges readers from our comfortable seats, from the comforting ways our minds purposefully arrange our interior landscapes. The beauty of the way Ritchie arranges her words will keep you going even through the darkest passages.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    An eating disorder is a complicated illness. The mental pain is excruciating, the toll on the body long-term and often deadly, and to the individual and those who love them, the guilt is devastating. Cinthia Ritchies Malnourished: A Memoir of Sisterhood and Hunger is an example, a true story of how two womens lives, beginning in childhood, are set on paths from which one will never recover and the other will be forever touched, yet survive. When their father died, their mother remarried and An eating disorder is a complicated illness. The mental pain is excruciating, the toll on the body long-term and often deadly, and to the individual and those who love them, the guilt is devastating. Cinthia Ritchie’s Malnourished: A Memoir of Sisterhood and Hunger is an example, a true story of how two women’s lives, beginning in childhood, are set on paths from which one will never recover and the other will be forever touched, yet survive. When their father died, their mother remarried and Cinthia, Deena, their two sisters and mother moved to their stepfather’s farm in Pennsylvania. While Deena and Cinthia’s daily life was idyllic, running and playing in the woods, nearby stream and farmland, their nighttime was filled with terror as their stepfather sexually abused them and their mother turned a blind eye. To cope both young girls developed issues with food, Deena’s later turning into a dangerous and eventually fatal eating disorder, both turned to cutting themselves, and Cinthia found it difficult to form lasting relationships with men. I found the writing to be absolutely beautiful, almost poetic at times, particularly when the author was talking about her relationship to and with nature. My difficulty with the book was the constant jumping around in time and place. I found it hard to follow at times and felt it detracted from the otherwise moving testament to her sister. Malnourished has its place in eating disorder literature, not only by drawing our attention to a person’s personal struggle with an ED, but also to some of the other battles (cutting, relationship issues) that may accompany one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is beautiful, moving and poetic. Cinthia Ritchie captures all the fun and sorrows of her childhood and the love, mental illness and death of her closest sister in a way I have never read before. Definitely worth reading more than once.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Satabdi Mukherjee

    If there's one book that you read this year, let it be this one. The eloquence, honesty, and raw emotion of Ritchie's writing is so overwhelming that this book will stay with me for a long time. She speaks poetically and unapologetically about her struggles with mental health and eating disorders. Ritchie begins with a description of the idyllic life that she and her sisters led on their stepfather's farm, running wild across the huge property. Except for the nights, when she writes (in whispers) If there's one book that you read this year, let it be this one. The eloquence, honesty, and raw emotion of Ritchie's writing is so overwhelming that this book will stay with me for a long time. She speaks poetically and unapologetically about her struggles with mental health and eating disorders. Ritchie begins with a description of the idyllic life that she and her sisters led on their stepfather's farm, running wild across the huge property. Except for the nights, when she writes (in whispers) about sexual abuse, which robbed her of the ability to sleep soundly for the rest of her life. The bond between the author and her elder sister, Deena, is described with such sensitivity and beauty that I felt my heart break when Deena started displaying strange behavior and refusing to eat. I was in despair when the family appeared to fail to act to prevent the disaster unfolding in front of their eyes. Deena grows dangerously close to death and voices in her head keep telling her that men are out to rape her and kill her. Initially, their mother is described as a character on the sidelines of their life, but later, her motives and aspirations are revealed. Cinthia speaks of how their mother seemed indifferent to the clear warning signs of dysfunction. In retrospect, it appears she was fighting demons of her own. Cinthia's troubled relationship with food appears to leave a mark on every other aspect of her life. The sense of taste affords immense satisfaction to her. As a child, she eats earth, rocks, and plants. As an adult, she gives in to her animal urges and tastes people and objects to feel connected to them. Episodes of cutting are described on and off throughout the memoir. By her own admission, Cinthia's version of events is not entirely reliable, so we can only guess which parts are true and which are a product of her traumatized mind. It is incredibly brave of Cinthia to bare all in her memoir, parts of which may be too graphic for some readers. She has opened herself to judgment by sharing deeply personal information, but she writes with such candor and feeling that I hope readers will view the book for the absolute gem it is.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This book hurt my heart. It was painful to read but beautifully written. Ill try and come back and write a review later. Even if its a small one. This book hurt my heart. It was painful to read but beautifully written. I’ll try and come back and write a review later. Even if it’s a small one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    The Lexington Bookie

    First off, if you didnt read the trigger warning, read it now, because this book is one big long trigger. Okay, now we can discuss. What I thought was going to be Ritchies recount of her sisters battle with an eating disorder turned out to be a compilation of prose that pieced together a life of four siblings who struggled with their traumatic childhood. In Malnourished, Ritchie doesnt shy away from examining not only her sisters childhood traumas, but her own as well, and how the cause created a First off, if you didn’t read the trigger warning, read it now, because this book is one big long trigger. Okay, now we can discuss. What I thought was going to be Ritchie’s recount of her sister’s battle with an eating disorder turned out to be a compilation of prose that pieced together a life of four siblings who struggled with their traumatic childhood. In Malnourished, Ritchie doesn’t shy away from examining not only her sister’s childhood traumas, but her own as well, and how the cause created a ripple affect as they aged. Ritchie explains that much of her sister’s problems with eating started with their stepfather’s abusive behavior towards them, and their mother’s dismissal of nurturing behavior. Add on the societal pressure of appearing thin, and nurtured fear and disgust of fatness, and there you have a tale of two impressionable young women desperately seeking attention and approval. Where the difference lay between them was her personal attempts to be noticed, and the stark contrast of her sister’s attempt to disappear before their eyes. Malnourished isn’t the most organized selection of prose I’ve read, with excessively repetitive information and a blurry chronological timeline. However, the stark writing and poetic description creates an ethereal trip down memory lane for the reader. Ritchie’s emotional impact is clearly defined, and there is no lack of honesty in her interpretation of events- to the point where I as a reader felt uncomfortable with the rawness of her words. Overall, Malnourished may not have been what I expected, but it’s absolutely worth reading. Just take heed with your heart on this one, because this book is sure to bruise.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Malnourished is unlike any memoir Ive read before now. Ritchies story of her relationship with her sister is so honest I sometimes felt I was swallowing broken glass. Malnourished starts haltingly, as if Ritchie is trying to get into position before diving into her memoir. Knowing already that her sister died from an eating disorder, I felt hesitant about reading her story. I knew it would be painful and yet Ritchies acknowledgement of how memory is a funny thing, encouraged me to dive in with Malnourished is unlike any memoir I’ve read before now. Ritchie’s story of her relationship with her sister is so honest I sometimes felt I was swallowing broken glass. Malnourished starts haltingly, as if Ritchie is trying to get into position before diving into her memoir. Knowing already that her sister died from an eating disorder, I felt hesitant about reading her story. I knew it would be painful and yet Ritchie’s acknowledgement of how “memory is a funny thing,” encouraged me to dive in with her: “Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it, how it adds and subtracts, takes something as simple as watching a whale swim along the shore and mixes it up in your mind so that your sister is there beside you, even though she’s been dead for years.” Richie’s conversational tone—as if we were two women sitting on a living room carpet, our backs against the couch, a bottle of wine between us, talking in the dark—kept me anchored. Even when she admitted to lying: “I lie, I’ve always lied. Growing up, we all lied, though perhaps this is common in most families, the ability and need to lie.” Richie doesn’t spare herself when describing her neglect or disregard of Deena as they grew older and resumed their relationship. Deena had become “crazy,” and Richie often didn’t want to deal with it. It was a losing battle, as such battles are with families, even those not dealing with abuse and eating disorders. Sometimes, as Ritchie notes, you just don’t have the energy. “We could barely keep ourselves together.” Malnourished weaves back and forth, in and out of time, and at first that was a little disorienting. But Richie is a poet as well as a journalist and novelist and whatever writing -ist may be included. After awhile I read the ebb and flow of her memories as shifts between fasting and satiety, between lightheadedness and clarity, between not remembering and remembering. Malnourished is a journey toward understanding: “It would take over fifteen years and her death before I’d understand that I’d never gotten over the closeness we shared growing up.” Malnourished is a journey I won’t soon forget.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    FAN-Freakin'-Tastical!! Strap yourself in and get ready for the ROLLER COASTER ride that is Cinthia Ritchies style of story telling. There are many ups, downs and "arounds" as Cinthia provides a very raw and exposed account of her upbringing and the unfortunate path to her sisters passing. But not a mournful read by any means, and plenty of details and "thrills" to keep the pages turning until the very end. I am a very slow reader and typically take weeks to finish books, but finished this in FAN-Freakin'-Tastical!! Strap yourself in and get ready for the ROLLER COASTER ride that is Cinthia Ritchies style of story telling. There are many ups, downs and "arounds" as Cinthia provides a very raw and exposed account of her upbringing and the unfortunate path to her sisters passing. But not a mournful read by any means, and plenty of details and "thrills" to keep the pages turning until the very end. I am a very slow reader and typically take weeks to finish books, but finished this in less than 1 week as I could NOT put it down! A "soul opener" for sure. Cannot wait to read more from this magnificent author!!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen Pickell

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cavak

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kim L

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaylene Johnson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  21. 5 out of 5

    Annette

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Settles

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lois

  24. 5 out of 5

    Haseeb Farrukh

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Herber

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kayla A.Jardine Bredwell

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jen K

  28. 5 out of 5

    Árný Árnadóttir

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicolette Lau

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Price

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

  32. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Clark

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  34. 5 out of 5

    Books&Cats

  35. 5 out of 5

    Petton

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.