“Failure to thrive” is not a phrase in this doctor’s vocabulary.

At the age of four, Anne McTiernan is left by her mother at a boarding school. Overcome by sadness from the neglect she experiences there, Anne emotionally and physically starves. A doctor, appalled by her excessive weight loss, forces Anne’s mother to bring her home, but she is still not safe.

Set in working-class, Irish-American Boston of the 1950s–1960s, Anne transitions from a malnourished state to obesity to obsessive dieting. Without love and support from her family, Anne decides she must take full responsibility for her own life during her last eighteen months as a minor.

Today as a doctor and researcher, Anne has helped thousands of women improve their relationship with food—but this is not their story. Starved is the gripping tale of how Anne used hard work, undaunted intelligence, and persistence to turn the adversity she encountered as a child into a strength and set of skills that would later help her meet the demands of her career.


“Anne McTiernan has written a gripping, deeply personal memoir that often reads like some of the best dramatic fiction out there. Starved is both a search for understanding the complications of family and a parallel exploration of our relationship with food, as either nurturer or torturer. Anne’s history as a young girl growing up in 1950s Boston and her drive to both heal herself and break free from a toxic relationship is framed through both the eye of the clinical researcher and the heart of great author in this fantastically well-written, rich memoir bursting with intelligence and hope. An absolute achievement.”—DOMINGO MARTINEZ, the New York Times best-selling author of The Boy Kings of Texas and 2012 National Book Award in Non-Fiction Finalist

“As a leading obesity researcher, Anne McTiernan has conducted some of the most groundbreaking studies on nutrition, exercise, and health. But in this book, she provides extraordinary insight into her own personal struggles with food. It’s an emotional and gripping life story, and one that anyone who has ever had a strained relationship with food—which is most of us—can find solace in.”—ANAHAD O’CONNOR, Bestselling author and health writer for the New York Times

Starved is an absorbing, and sometimes shattering, primer on abuse and resilience. Anne McTiernan mines her past to bring up the painful, real details that make this memoir sing—even as it breaks our hearts.”—CLAIRE DEDERER, the New York Times best-selling author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses

“A heartbreaking and inspiring story of a young girl who faces neglect and punishment by her family and church but survives through sheer will and goodness—and intelligence.”—MIRIAM E. NELSON, PhD, Professor and author of the international bestseller Strong Women Stay Young

“McTiernan’s absorbing memoir details her early abandonment and troubled relationship with family and food, and readers will cheer as she completes her difficult journey to self-acceptance.”—STEPHANIE CLIFFORD, the New York Times best-selling author of Everybody Rise

“Dr. McTiernan’s remarkable life story is a testament to the power of human resilience and the determination to do good. Instead of spending her life seeking vengeance for the abuse and hardship she endured as a child, this inspirational physician has dedicated her adult life to helping people and improving their lives. I am in greater awe than ever over her enormous accomplishments.”—JOANN E. MANSON, MD, DrPH, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

“Anne McTiernan is a master storyteller who writes with great wit and insight. If you grew up without the support you needed to survive and yet somehow still thrived, you will likely see yourself in her story. But no matter how you grew up, you will find yourself rooting for her.”—THEO PAULINE NESTOR, Author of Writing Is My Drink

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Buy Starved from Central Recovery Press

Starved is also available at independent bookstores and online sites.