Pound for Pound by Shannon Kopp
Review by Julie Carpenter
Shannon Kopp’s Pound for Pound is the story of her journey through the pain of self-hatred and bulimia to healing. It’s also the story of her work with shelter dogs. The book is a well crafted narrative that helps us understand the pain that drove her to bulimia: the alcoholic father; the cultural expectations of perfection and thinness that women can never fulfill; hunger for love. She recounts her struggle with the disease from her initial introduction by a popular high school friend to her times in rehab and on through her time working in animal shelters.
Surprisingly, she initially meant for the book to be about the shelter dogs she worked with and tried to help save, at some point she realized that the bigger story was that the dogs had saved her as well. This book goes beyond a self help story of overcoming addiction, and it is not simply a sentimental story about rescuing dogs. This story is about finding a center; it’s about finding love in a universe that often seems chaotic and sometimes downright cruel. It’s about learning to reach outside ourselves to heal the pain that’s inside.
I would certainly recommend this book to people suffering with addictions, particularly eating disorders, but the themes are much more universal. The struggle to find love through physical perfection pervades our society with ads equating thinness and physical beauty with happiness. Dysfunctional family life and broken relationships leave holes that can lead to addictions, eating disorders, workaholism, all things that take us out of the moment and help us hide from the pain of simply being human in this impersonal culture. It was the author’s relationship with shelter dogs that helped her realize that to live, one must live in the moment, with all the imperfections, with all the joy, with all that life has to offer at the moment.
Shannon Kopp’s story is the story of any one of us. It’s the story of learning how become a person who can give and receive love and to find meaning in life. It’s the story of learning how to be alive. Because of that I think I could recommend it to anyone.