“Book Review: I, Dragonfly”
Reviewed by Helen Barnes
I, Dragonfly is a memoir in which Kerrie Baldwin recounts her determined yet difficult journey to health after a decade-long illness with an eating disorder. This inspirational story is captivating and readable, written with simple language and powerful analogies, capable of transporting the reader to the center of Kerrie’s thoughts and feelings without ever dipping its toes into sentimentality. Baldwin has done a wonderful job here.
To overcome her disorder, Kerrie uses an approach called the “Homeodynamic Recovery Method.” I, Dragonfly actually begins with a foreword from the approach’s creator Gwyneth Olwyn, as she succinctly provides the facts to this approach and introduces her relationship with Baldwin that developed during her recovery as well.
Kerrie’s story starts when her eating disorder does. She is in her twenties and due to get married soon. The author provides necessary information as to how her illness develops and progresses over time alongside key events in her life, ultimately making this book not only about her recovery but about her two-year journey as a person as well.
“Although at my core I understood that this was no way to live, that this was wrecking my body, that normal people did not need to do this to maintain their weight, I could not find a button to mute the squalling tyrant.”
When Kerrie realizes she needs to beat her anorexia, she is already married with three children. She describes her experience and recovery in candid detail, including physical experiences that, for many, might be difficult to tolerate and often come with an array of mixed emotions. The emotional turmoil Kerrie goes through provides remarkable insight into why recovery is so complex, sharing how her illness worked as an outlet for stress and its ability to numb her true emotions. Her mindset causes a strain on her relationships with her husband and mother, ending with Kerrie having to face some difficult decisions about her future.
As a reader, you will be cheering for Kerrie throughout. Can she return her body to health? Will her mind start to think more clearly? How can she keep this up while still being a mother, a wife, and continuing her writing and editing to stay afloat?
“I was feeling the unconditional love of the mother inside me, my body telling me that I can always come home, that it will always forgive me…”
I, Dragonfly has the ability to give anyone a greater understanding of eating disorders and how we can help bring an end to the unhelpful stereotypes and stigma that surround the illness. I would not hesitate to recommend this book. Any reader, with or without an interest in eating disorders, could gain inspiration into the strength of human spirit by reading Ms. Baldwin’s memoir.
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