A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Book - 2006
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Baker & Taylor
The author shares her lifelong battle with bulimia and anorexia, chronicling her secret life of bingeing and purging and her obsession with food and body image, substance abuse, and sex.


Why would a talented young woman enter into a torrid affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Through five lengthy hospital stays, endless therapy, and the loss of family, friends, jobs, and all sense of what it means to be "normal," Marya Hornbacher lovingly embraced her anorexia and bulimia -- until a particularly horrifying bout with the disease in college put the romance of wasting away to rest forever. A vivid, honest, and emotionally wrenching memoir, Wasted is the story of one woman's travels to reality's darker side -- and her decision to find her way back on her own terms.

Publisher: New York : Harper Perennial, 2006, c1998
Edition: Reissued 2006 Harper Perennial edition
ISBN: 9780060858797
Characteristics: 298, 16 p. ; 21 cm


From the critics

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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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