Life Without Ed is a powerful book written in an honest voice. It contains sections on different stages and aspects of recovery, everything from the early days of recovery, to relapses, to maintaining a recovered life. It also contains exercises written by a therapist designed to help readers move through their recovery and explore the issues surrounding their eating disorders.
The most helpful aspect of the book is Schaefer’s description of “Ed.” Ed stands for eating disorder and is the personification of the illness. Schaefer relates many conversations she’s had with Ed, who is portrayed as an abusive husband, but is sure to clarify that an eating disorder is not a hallucination or an audible voice in the sufferer’s head. Rather, Ed is that negative voice that drowns out one’s own. The use of this personification is very effective throughout the book, as well as in eating disorder treatment. I recommend reading this book if you have trouble with the idea that you are not defined by your eating disorder, or if you believe your eating disorder’s wants and goals are synonymous with your own.
There are a few places in the book where the writing is unpleasant to read due to cheesy jokes and awkward dialogue, however this does not detract from Schaefer’s overall message. In fact, she addresses these flaws in the ten year anniversary edition of Life Without Ed in her updated afterword.
Schaefer’s voice is unique and distinct, making the book relatable and quick to read. Life Without Ed is a book that changes people’s lives and provides a close look inside the mind of someone with an eating disorder.