Review: The Time in Between

Here I am on this blustery lunchtime – and I have zero clue what the weather is like anywhere else, but it’s so freaking windy here that I have no idea how this rumoured Easter heatwave is ever going to come to fruition – to talk about the delightful Nancy Tucker and her memoir The Time in Between, which made me feel all the things and not only because of how it made me think about my own less than stellar relationship with food.

First of all, first of all, Nancy can write. 

Second of all, I follow her on Twitter (you can find her here) and she seems like a genuinely sweet girl.

Thirdly, this book. It’s just, it’s kind of incredible in its honesty. It’s unflinchingly direct and painfully painfully honest and not for a single second does it try to paint eating disorders as anything other than the manipulating, controlling, devastating horrors that they are.

A memoir of hunger and hope.

That’s the tagline and you want to know a thing? As taglines go it’s fairly accurate, because yep hunger and yep, also a weird kind of hope.

It’s a funny one, the hope of it all, because I don’t know: it’s hard to explain. I’ma try though, otherwise pointless review is pointless. I guess for me the hope comes in the shape of, well, the fact that Nancy’s here to tell her story. She’s here to talk about it with a forthrightness that makes you want to hug the life out of her. This is a girl that when at 8 years old she had to write about ‘what she wanted in life’ wrote I want to be thin. This is the girl that was hospitalised with anorexia; who seemed – on the surface at least - to be Getting Better only to find herself with bulimia; who put rocks in her pockets to fool the scales; and who got so close to the edge that her organs began to shut down, and here she is now, here is this book, this intelligent, insightful book and if that isn’t what ‘hope’ looks like then I don’t know what is.

This is a book that made me feel for Nancy, who was – is – at all times both fragile and incredibly strong, that made me feel for her family because it must be so far beyond awful to watch a person you love in freefall and be powerless to help, that made me catch my breath and that also sometimes made me chuckle a little bit. I love that word: chuckle. There are scenes that made me weepy, and scenes that frustrated me, and scenes that made me want to take Nancy in my arms and just hold her and protect her and be there for her even though I know it would have made little difference (and I mean that in the least patronising way possible, good gracious), and then there is one scene that made me retch (soz) like I said: it’s brutally honest and there are no holds barred.

This is a book about eating disorders, it’s a book about one girl and her experience with eating disorders, it’s a book that could well be triggering. It’s excellent. The most phenomenal part of the whole thing, for me, was the foreword. I mean, the whole damn book was pretty phenomenal but the foreword is what let me know that this was a book that was going to have meaning; that let me know that I was going to want to offer Nancy the highest of fives. She’s incredibly aware; she knows exactly what she wants her book to be, and how what it could be is something entirely different and so she writes this foreword that addresses all of that.  In it Nancy calls out to each and every reader that may have an ED. I know, she tells them, that you might want to use this book for tips on how to be A Good Anorexic because I’ve done the same thing and so because of that I AM TAKING AWAY THE NUMBERS. And she does. Not once throughout the whole book does Nancy tell us what she weighs, what her BMI is, how many calories she’s eating per day, or even how tall she is. The only numbers she gives us are the ones that tell us how old she is (not very) – she knows, because she’s lived it, that anorexia is both voyeuristic and weirdly competitive and so she takes away all of the things other sufferers could use to compare themselves against and then, with the insightfulness and honesty that we come to expect from her, says she can only hope that it does the trick.

I wanted…to give people something to think about, not something to emulate. Have I managed it? I suppose that’s up to you.

It’s that, for me, that set the bar. It’s that foreword that let me know that despite what I’d heard The Time In Between was going to be more than ‘another Wasted*,’ it was going to be different and profoundly good in it’s own right.

This a book that when I finished it left me thinking ‘Nancy Tucker is a bloody excellent girl and I really hope she’s proud.

I really hope she’s proud.

(*I thought Wasted was excellent too, by the way)