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A Memoir of Family, Food, and Finding Hope

  • reading group guide
With captivating blue eyes and dark hair, Jenny Lauren looked as though she'd stepped out of one of the ads for which her uncle, Ralph Lauren, is famous. It was not long, however, before she found herself in a world where it was easy to see herself as less than perfect. She was ten years old when she first starved herself. After many years of bingeing, purging, and compulsively exercising, her body fell apart. Her colon herniated and she was forced to undergo surgery. At twenty-four, living in chronic pain, she wrote Homesick as a cautionary tale that she hoped would touch many.
This unflinching account details her struggle with anorexia and bulimia, yet is also a much larger story that focuses on universal issues: the intricacies of family ties, the pressures of society, the search for selfhood, and ultimately the power of hope. With flashes of wit and a knowing beyond its young writer's years, Homesick is a riveting and emotionally complex story of pain and hard-won recovery that no reader will forget.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743456999 | 
  • May 2005
List Price $19.99
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Reading Group Guide

Jenny Lauren


1) Jenny Lauren cleverly entitles her memoir “Homesick.” How is this title significant? Does it reflect the themes she focuses on in her book?

2) It is very important to Jenny (for understandable reasons) that her doctors take her physical ailments seriously and not treat her as though she is insane. Finally, in Dr. P, it seems that Jenny gets the kind of treatment she is looking for. But why do so many other medical professionals incorrectly assume her problems are mostly mental? Is this medical hubris—do the doctors simply dismiss what they cannot understand in order to protect their own egos?—or is there something larger going on in terms of how doctors (many of them male) relate to their female patients? In the not so distant past, the medical community at large dismissed a whole host of female problems as “hysteria”—a phenomenon that the Greeks believed was caused by a wandering uterus. Is this the modern equivalent?

3) At one point, Jenny explains to Dr. P, who is somewhat skeptical about alternative healing: “Alternative medicine understands that everything in a person’s constitution is connected, and that one internal function depends on another” (194). Unlike Western medicine, where you see a different doctor for every area of your body (as Jenny mentions), alternative medicine seeks to treat the person a see more

About the Author

Jenny Lauren
Photo Credit:

Jenny Lauren

Jenny Lauren grew up in New York City and earned her B.A. from Barnard College. A writer and painter, she currently lives in Manhattan. Visit her website at




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