Usually I pre-order a book on Amazon and promptly forget about it until it turns up squeezed in my mail box. This time, while waiting for the publication date for It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell, I found myself counting down instead. When it arrived in mid-January, I could hardly wait to crack the binding and lapped up the entire thing, one beautifully constructed sentence after another, in only a day or two.
I came across Andie’s blog, Can You Stay For Dinner, a few years ago and instantly fell head over heels. It’s the perfect blend of delicious — no, really, delicious — recipes, beautiful photography, and a regular dollop of real life real talk. Simply put, it’s my favorite.
It Was Me All Along is a memoir by a still-very-young author, chronicling her lifelong relationship with food. She is very overweight as a child, with an extremely apparent binge eating disorder. The memoir tells the story of that relationship — sometimes literally how it feels, what she sees, and how she rationalizes each bite — and then, later, how she tackles weight loss and life after losing 135 pounds.
Part of what I really enjoyed about the book is that it is made up of original content, but in the same thoughtful voice I so enjoy when a new post goes live online. The writing is extremely descriptive — girl loves a good adjective — but also really carefully considered; it’s thoughtfully and purposefully constructed, if that makes sense. She describes the abuse in her family home, internal struggles, and expansive buffets at birthday parties with measured, illustrative language, making sure you really, really get it, and it’s certainly not all pretty. Her honest is brave.
I was shocked by how matter-of-factly the author described her relationship with food, with her father, and between her parents, by how this was, very basically, her reality. For me, growing up in a balanced, healthy family with such a balanced, healthy relationship with food, the imbalance and loneliness that Mitchell lived with each day was really difficult. I have a friend who dealt with really, really tremendous loss throughout childhood and later battled the demons of disordered eating. I remember thinking as she struggled, well, of course! Why wouldn’t she be looking for some control? This memoir struck the same chord as Mitchell ate past pleasure and later obsessed about her “success” as a young woman who had lost weight.
The book is a quick read and just might glide through some of her recent years too quickly and lightly, not to a fault, but as something that made me think there either could have been more or less, instead of just some.
Mitchell is articulate in the way she confesses to dark moments, complex in the way she copes with family dynamics, and pragmatic about her strategy to use humor to fit in. Ultimately, I think she is triumphant in her honesty, just as she ultimately is in her journey to living at a healthy weight, with a balanced relationship with food.
If you’re interested in getting to know Andie, her voice and her story, check out her TEDx talk from this time last year (Friday Feature). If you want an incredible tomato sauce and meatball recipe, hop on over to Can You Stay For Dinner. If hopping takes too long, just click. Fast. And, finally, if you’re interested in checking out It Was Me All Along, claim my copy or get your own!