Christine O'Brien grew up learning to distrust her body, her desires and her pain. She and her four siblings were beautiful, affluent children in Manhattan, with miserable and often frightening parents. Their father was a successful TV executive and film producer who swung between affection, neglect and rage. Their mother was a Miss America finalist who suffered terrible childhood accidents and never felt entirely well again. The strain of her bad health and failing marriage led her to search for control and perfection in restrictive diets and alternative medicine, first for herself, then for her whole family. Crave is O'Brien's memoir of growing up in this cocktail of love and abuse, and her ongoing struggle to come to terms with its lasting effects.
When O'Brien was a little girl, her family lived in a gloomy formal apartment in the famous Dakota building on Central Park. To escape the city pollution, they moved to Long Island, where her mother discovered a "doctor" who promoted a strict program of juices, puréed salads, raw egg yolks and nuts. Out of strong misdirected love, she raised her four children on this diet, which starved them, isolated them, and taught them disordered eating habits that haunt them into adulthood. There is no perfect resolution. "I have broken the chain of control and rigidity and guilt for my own children. The chain I haven't broken is the one still binding me." In the end, her mother still dominates this memoir, an image of tormented well-intentioned intimidating love, who must never be betrayed. --Sara Catterall