On Saturday, Jan. 21, I drove to Holland’s Barnes & Noble to attend a book signing by West Michigan writer Rachael Rose Steil. The author recently published “Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It.”
I had stumbled upon signings in the local bookstore before. However, this was my first time purposefully attending one. My reasoning had to do with the subject matter of Steil’s debut novel.
In high school, I joined the nearly 30 million people in the United States who suffer from an eating disorder. Fortunately, I have since beaten the disease. However, this hasn’t stopped my interest in the subject, and Steil’s event provided me with the opportunity to combine my desire to learn more about this issue with my love of literature.
While greeting me, Steil mentioned that similarly mixing her love of writing with her raw food diet obsession helped her recovery. “A lot of eating disorder memoirs are the worst case scenarios, so I couldn’t relate to those as well,” she said. “I wanted to get a book that I could relate to, and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just write it?'”
Rachel Bartkowiak (’18), a Hope College student, attended the event and believed that talking to Steil showed her that not all eating disorders involve a hospital visit. “It was nice to hear from someone that there doesn’t necessarily have to be extreme story showing an eating disorder,” she said. “It can be a more ordinary experience.”
Steil did, however, emphasize the need for early action, saying that people in the beginning stages of eating disorders create “isolation.” “It’s not living a full life,” Steil said.