A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Book - 1998
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Precociously intelligent, imaginative, energetic and ambitious, Marya Hornbacher grew up in a comfortable middle-class American home. At the age of five, she returned from a ballet class one day, put on an enormous sweater, curled up on her bed and cried -- because she thought she was fat. By age nine, she was secretly bulimic, throwing up at home after school while watching The Brady Bunch reruns on television and munching Fritos. She added anorexia to her repertoire a few years later and took great pride in her ability to starve.

Why would a talented young girl go through the looking glass and step into a netherworld where up is down and food is greed, where death is honor and flesh is weak? Why enter into a love affair with hunger, drugs, sex and death? Marya Hornbacher sustained both anorexia and bulimia through five lengthy hospitalizations, endless therapy, the loss of family, friends, jobs and, ultimately, any sense of what it meant to be "normal." In this vivid, emotionally wrenching memoir, she re-creates the experience and illuminates the tangle of personal, family and cultural causes that underlie eating disorders.

Hornbacher's story gathers intensity with each passing year. By the time she is in college and working for a news service in Washington, DC, she is in the grip of a such a horrifying bout with anorexia that it will forever put to rest the romance of wasting away. Down to 52 pounds and counting, Hornbacher's body becomes a battlefield: the death instinct with the drive to live, mind and body locked in mortal combat.

Wasted is the story of one woman's travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back -- on her own terms. A landmark book from a 23-year-old writer of virtuoso prose, Wasted takes us inside the experience of anorexia and bulimia in a way that no one else has ever done.

Publisher: New York : HarperFlamingo, c1998
ISBN: 9780060187392
Branch Call Number: Health & Wellness 616.852 Hor


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Jul 19, 2016

As was mentioned, "the book" on eating disorders, as well as the book that persuaded scores of young girls that it would be highly romantic to have EDs. Persistently problematic from that standpoint, all these years later, but a wonderful read none the less.

Jan 25, 2015

the holy grail of eating disorder memoirs. a literary masterpiece, raw and harrowing. quite disturbing in parts, and extremely triggering. this book is amazing, but i don't know that i would recommend it to other eating disorder sufferers because of how triggering it is.

Nov 24, 2014

this is a very very intense book. if you want to really know how messed up anoretics and bulimics are, read this. it made me feel hopeless and very thankful that i don't have an eating disorder. you kind of just want to shake her sometimes; she just keeps on starving herself, no matter what anyone says or does. and you get to read every second of it.

Jun 13, 2013

Hornbacher really has a talent bringing readers out of Earth and into her own world through a beautifully poetic voice that is literally seeping through the pages. Her book is emotionally impactful and will change the lives of others. She describes depression, drug addictions, and eating disorders in a way that is distant yet involved and full of emotion. I would not recommend this book to any younger readers because of the grim topic.

ksoles May 27, 2013

Bulimic at age nine and anorexic at fifteen, freelance writer Marya Hormbacher explores treatment options for those with eating disorders while telling her own story of vomiting, starvation and ravaging her inner organs.

With reference to journals and thousands of pages of her own medical records, Hombacher theorizes about her quest to make herself disappear. Although in many ways she fit the profile of a person with an eating disorder (chaotic family life, perfectionism), she argues that society's dictate, "you can't be too rich or too thin," greatly contributed to her struggle.

The author's descriptions of both the desperate need to binge and purge and the grip of the addiction to not-eating vividly portray the dysfunction that gives rejection of nourishment terrible potency. The author remains unconvinced that she will survive, struggling each morning over her bowl of Cheerios and trying to let go of the urge to be thinner. Ultimately, "Wasted" exposes the complexity of eating disorders, proving that they are not simply about food.

Jun 09, 2010

This became one of my most favorite novels instantly. I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone. Thank you Marya.


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Feb 21, 2019

Wasted describes author Marya Hornbacher’s journey through and recovery from anorexia and bulimia nervosa. It explores the roots of her eating disorder, beginning from her birth and ending in her eventual recovery. It’s an in-depth, brilliantly written memoir that explores her struggles very thoroughly, showing that eating disorders are not really just about eating.


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Jul 13, 2013

"For a long time I believed the opposite of passion was death. I was wrong. Passion and death are implicit, one in the other. Past the border of a fiery life lies the netherworld. I can trace this road, which took me through places so hot the very air burned the lungs. I did not turn back. I pressed on, and eventually passed over the border, beyond which lies a place that is wordless and cold, so cold that it, like mercury, burns a freezing blue flame.”


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