Book Review: Seconds To Snap by Tina McGuff

Seconds To Snap - Tina McGuff - Header

It’s slightlu hard to review a book that is, essentially, somebody’s life story. It’s difficult to dissect the truth or critique the story. A fictional narrative is easy, you can tear it apart, say which bits you liked, disliked, believed or found fanciful but with the truth that’s impossible. You have to ignore how the story moves from A to B. It has to solely rest on the emotion and feelings you draw instead.

Anorexia, strangely, have a competitive edge. I think it his partly because one of the personality traits that is mostly commonly found amongst suffers is perfectionism. You have to be the best and therefore, anything that challenges your idea that you are as good as possible at something needs to be disproved. As a result, suffers will often talk about triggers. How hearing stories about other’s battles with the illness has caused them to relapse, or to push on further. “If they can do it so can I”. Thankfully, that isn’t something that has ever affected me. I have never felt anorexia was a challenge or something to compare. I can read tales of suffers living on nothing but lettuce leaves and not feel bad that I eat more, in the same way I don’t wish I weighed less than I do because Tina McGuff managed to reach 6 stone.

Self Help Books - Seconds To Snap by Tina McGuff

I’m winning my own battle because I want to fight back and I want to know why. I’m doing a psychology degree because I want to know how a healthy mind breaks and I want to help people understand and rebuild the pieces. I am, therefore, drawn slightly to books on anorexia/eating disorders, not because I want tips but because I want to see patterns. I am interested in people’s stories. Their symptoms and what happened to allow this horrendous illness into their lives. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many honest and frank books like that available. There are lots of self-help books, lots of “positive attitude because recovery is possible” books, but very few dirty, gritty and honest psychological accounts that don’t simply want to say “follow my example to a happy life” but rather “this is what happened to me”.

Seconds To Snap is Tina McGuff’s story of how anorexia and depression was brought on by some huge and destructive events in her life. As I said at the start, it’s impossible to say anything other than how my heart was torn and saddened by her story because it is her truth. What happened, really happened. But, while it is a tale of tremendous inner pain and self-hatred, I must admit I did find it a little hard at times to relate to. Even with my own battles with anorexia, because the story is so personal, and her treatment so different to anything I have experienced, it’s a world I don’t fully connect to. It doesn’t create that strong a feeling within. It’s a bit like reading a war story, or an account of being in prison, unless you have actually been there and done it, no painting or description will fully clarify the realities of it.

Author - Seconds To Snap by Tina McGuff

Even though her story is harrowing at times, Tina McGuff’s life is wonderfully rich and positively engulfing. She just comes across as a beautifully inviting and friendly person. I wanted to spend time with her. I wanted to smile and party and be happy during the highs and I wanted to sit and hug and help during the lows. As her story swings back and forth, I did react with a little flutter inside me when things went her way or a reflective sigh, when once again, anorexia refused to exit quietly.

Whilst the extremes of her illness and treatment are miles beyond my own as I said, we did, as I half expected, share a lot of the shame character traits and thought processes. The descriptions she gave to her mental state as anorexia tortured and demanded, echoing feelings I’ve had myself. It’s actually became comforting to see that things I’ve done, said or thought were not the real me, that they were not thoughts of truth in my head but rather, just a symptom of the illness. A twisting of its reality. |Weapons it uses to convince you its right and its actions justified.

Anorexic Brain - Seconds To Snap by Tina McGuff

Honestly, if you want to know anything about anorexia and the tributaries that run from it I would recommend you read Seconds To Snap. It paints the illness with depressive, graphic, realism. It will open your eyes and allow you to see how polar and divisive the illness is and how suffers thoughts become warp and twisted. Normalised within their mind but abstract and narcissistic to those around them. I hate to find issue with anything but there was the odd moment where the book became a little slow as the events of her life seemed to be repeated and a few major elements and events seemed ignored as the story went on, forgotten almost too easily as time passed; but like I said, it’s her story, so you can’t complain about the plot. Also, the ending is a little abrupt. It arrived without warning and caught me off guard, it doesn’t feel like the end of her story, but rather that’s she’s simply decided that she’s told you enough and it’s time for you to leave her life. Which I found a shame.

I didn’t hate Seconds To Snap but I didn’t love it either, because it’s not that type of book. I’m sorry to hark back to it, but it’s someone’s life: their choices, decisions and milestones and therefore, it’s a book you read to understand rather than enjoy, and on that front it fulfils its brief perfectly.

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

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