Greta Thunberg Was 'Slowly Disappearing Into Some Kind of Darkness'

New book looks at her autism, eating disorder, and climate awakening
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2020 3:00 PM CST
Thunberg Family Book Reveals Greta's Hard Childhood
Climate avtivist Greta Thunberg, center, from Sweden takes part in a protest rally of the 'Fridays For Future' movement in Hamburg, Germany. Friday, Feb 21, 2020.   (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)

A new book excerpt reveals how Greta Thunberg struggled with autism and an eating disorder before emerging as the world's leading climate activist, the Guardian reports. Authored by the entire Thunberg family—mom Malena Ernman, opera singer; dad Svante Thunberg, actor; Greta's sister, Beata Ernman; and Greta herself—Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis doesn't hold back on hard details. Among those published in the Observer:

  • "She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness and little by little, bit by bit, she seemed to stop functioning," reads the book. "She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating."

  • After losing 10kg in a month, getting better, and returning to school, only to deal with bullies: "The school isn’t sympathetic. Their understanding of the situation is different. It’s Greta's own fault, the school thinks; several children have said repeatedly that Greta has behaved strangely and spoken too softly and never says hello."
  • Greta later learns about the climate crisis by watching a school film "about how much rubbish there is in the oceans. An island of plastic, larger than Mexico, is floating around in the South Pacific. Greta cries throughout the film. Her classmates are also clearly moved."
  • Joined by other activists during her first school strike in 2018, Greta is offered vegan Thai noodles by a Greenpeace activist. "She takes a little bite. And another. No one reacts to what’s happening. Why would they? … Greta keeps eating. Not just a few bites but almost the whole serving."
  • After Greta speaks at a Stockholm climate march: "The audience stands up. Shouting, applauding. The ovation doesn’t stop. And Greta is smiling the most beautiful smile I have ever seen her smile."
(Click for the full excerpt. Or see what Greta did about her name.)

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