Review: The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting

Evanna Lynch has long been viewed as a role model for people recovering from anorexia, as the story of her casting as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films grew to almost mythic proportions–a tale of how she faced disordered eating as a young girl, found solace in a beloved book series, and several years later landed the part of her favorite character. But that is not the whole story.

Even after recovery, there remains a conflict at the very core of her being: a bitter struggle between the familiar, anesthetizing pursuit of perfection and the desire to fully and fearlessly embrace her creativity. In her book, Evanna confronts all the complexities and contradictions within herself and reveals how she began to conquer her self-hate while facing her fear of leaving the neatness and safety of girlhood for the unpredictable journey of being a woman. Revealing a startlingly accomplished voice, Evanna delves into the very heart of a woman’s relationship with her own body. Unwilling to let the darkness of her eating disorder eclipse her dreams, Evanna explores the pivotal moments and choices in her life that led her down the path of creativity. Taking the reader through her personal journey, she reveals how by channeling her fears of the messy, uncharted future into joyful, ambitious endeavors, she reaches toward acceptance of the wild, sensual, and unpredictable reality of womanhood.

Honest, electrifying, and inspiring, this is a story of the tragedy and the glory of growing up, of mourning girlhood and stepping into the unknown, and how that act of courage is the most liberating thing a woman can do.

I have never first-handedly dealt with an eating disorder with myself or anyone I know, so my limited knowledge on ED’s are from psychology courses from early college and media. Therefore, I’m aware of the fact that I basically know nothing about them, what the person goes through, and how to help someone who’s dealing with one. One of the reasons I picked up this book was because I wanted to read from the perspective of someone who’s gone through it, and still struggles to not relapse. 

Despite my lack of knowledge of eating disorders, I can’t help but feel that Evanna perfectly captured what it’s like to go through one to explain to those of us who haven’t. Her memoir is utterly raw as she talks about how her eating disorder started at the mere age of 10, and progressed to the point where she’d had to go away to a facility, as her parents felt that helping her was beyond their means. You can feel her emotions bleed out of the page as she fights to keep control over her own body and damning anyone who tries to tell her she’s unhealthy.

An aspect of eating disorders that most people don’t realize is that not all of it is related to calorie intake or wanting to be thin. There’s kind of an OCD aspect for some who go through this, and it’s more about the control over one’s body in terms of how much they intake or exercise, which kind of turns into an addiction at some point. Evanna was able to perfectly explain this concept that eating disorders aren’t necessarily always related to food and weight loss for those of us who weren’t aware of that before.

There really isn’t much justice that I could do to this book in a review, only in that it is very eye-opening and sheds a new light onto eating disorders and those who suffer with them during and after recovery. I think this is a great book for everyone to add to their TBR piles, whether you know who Evanna Lynch is or not. However, if you have personally struggled with an eating disorder, I would proceed with caution depending on how you feel your recovery is.

“We have this compulsion to turn every story into a fairy tale.”

One last thought on this is I like that Evanna mentions multiple times how the media has misconstrued her struggle with anorexia, making it seem like she got her role of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films because she overcame her disorder. That’s not the truth, as she was still struggling even while filming, but she knew that a relapse would end her job. The media took the knowledge of her ED and made it like she was happily recovered, when she really wasn’t. I’m proud of her for calling them out on their bull in this book, multiple times.

It just goes to show you that you can’t believe everything the media says about those who are in the public eye, and maybe we shouldn’t try to pry so much into their lives. Let them tell their own stories… if they wish to do so.

Rating: 4/5 stars

2 thoughts on “Review: The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting

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