Chasing Silhouettes: a review

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
You watch your child picking again at their food. You rationalise that lots of children are fussy eaters, and that doesn’t mean anything.
Time passes. The length of time they spend in the bathroom increases – but that’s normal for a teenager, right?
More time passes. You look at their baggy clothes and their rebellious behaviour. You don’t want to think it, but gradually you begin to wonder, ‘Is it possible…does my child have an eating disorder?’

What would you do in that situation? How would you begin to respond?
I am really thankful for this new book by Emily Wierenga, Chasing Silhouettes, written just for that situation. It is an invaluable tool in understanding the complex causes of anorexia, and a guide for how best to respond as a family member or friend.
Emily’s anorexia began when she was just nine, and she gradually starved herself for four years until she reached a turning point and began to recover. As an adult, she later relapsed for three years, and she discusses the reasons for both in the book.
Here are three reasons I loved the book:

1) it takes you through the stages of an eating disorder: Recognising; Rendered helpless; Recovery; and Renewal.  The section that most impacted me was ‘Rendered helpless’, where it describes how someone with an eating disorder typically needs to hit rock bottom before they decide for themselves to recover. It made me think through what my instinctive reaction would be if I had a child with an eating disorder, and I was challenged that my instinctive response would not have been the most helpful one.
2) it has lots of different perspectives. The great strength of this book is that for each section, it has the viewpoint of Emily, her parents, her siblings, her husband and a medical professional, so you can explore the impact of the eating disorder from all angles.
3) it has prayer soaked in it throughout. Each section ends with a written prayer, recognising our dependency on God for healing and support in the midst of an eating disorder. Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a difficult situation, it’s hard to find the words to pray, and it can really help to use someone else’s words.
Read it before you need it

This book reminded me that eating disorders can happen to any family, and that it’s tricky to know how best to respond. Emily was in a ‘good Christian family’, her Dad a pastor of a flourishing church. I don’t know anyone close to me at the moment with an eating disorder, but I realised that is precisely the time to read this book – before you need it, so that you have a better understanding and you’re better prepared.
A New Name vs Chasing Silhouettes

The observant among you may notice that this is the second book on anorexia I have reviewed in the space of two months. It never rains but it pours – hardly any books on eating disorders for ages, then two out at once. Which one should you get?
Why, both, of course!

A New Name looks in-depth at the emotional and spiritual causes of anorexia, and is a gripping story of a woman’s battle with perfectionism. It’s good for anyone struggling with issues of perfectionism or control as well as those with eating disorders.

Chasing Silhouettes is excellent for those who want to help an anorexic friend or family member. It is a must-read for all parents.

I would definitely recommend getting both – they’re both outstanding and with approximately 80% of thirteen-year-olds saying they’ve attempted to lose weight, this is an issue that needs to be faced.  I am thankful to Emily for providing such a valuable resource for doing this.

Disclosure: Emily sent me a free copy of the e-book, which I read and loved. Also, I am a HUGE fan of her thoughtful, worshipful blog – do check it out!
For more about Chasing Silhouettes and a FREE preview, click here
Buy Chasing Silhouettes from
Check out Emily Wierenga’s amazing blog, Imperfect Prose.

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7 Responses to Chasing Silhouettes: a review

  1. Emma 18th October, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Thanks Tanya – have just ordered Emily’s book – and her blog looks brilliant too.

    • Tanya 18th October, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      I think you’re both pretty fab…

  2. Mia 17th October, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Dear Tanya
    Thank you! I grew up as a very insecure and lonely child. The reasons for that does not really matter here, but to earn acceptance and love and also to relieve that terrible burden of insecurity, worthlessness and the whole enchilada of negative perceptions caused me to also succumb to anorexia and bulimia as a teenager. My parents either did not know about it for I was a master at hiding many things from especially my mom, or they were clueless on how to handle the situation. Mine went through to my early twenties even after I got married. It is truly a dark, desolate, scary place to be. I think that it could perhaps also have contributed to my Fm/ME, but as always, our Pappa has worked only good out of this horrible time of my life. Thanks, I will definitely try to buy them for my nieces.

    • Tanya 18th October, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      Oh wow – that sounds like a terrifying place to be. Thank you so much for sharing some of your journey. What things helped you in your recovery?

      I’d definitely recommend these books for your nieces – and Emily’s blog too – I think you would like her a lot. Much love x

  3. emily wierenga 17th October, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    what an amazing review tanya! thank you so much. i wijll share this. and thank you for letting me know about the other book–i hadn’t heard of it. will look into it. i have one final request, even though you’ve already done so much; would you consider posting this review on amazon, here?… thank you friend. love you. xo

    • Tanya 18th October, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Done! And on too. Xx


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