Editor reviews

Who is raising our children? You hardly even know them, because you are gone before they wake up for school and they are home, doing God knows what, four hours before you are. There can't be any problem because they are smiling, have good grades, and look healthy. Wrong. Marya Hornbacher tears down the walls of home as she draws us into the folds of her life in, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. Hornbacher reveals how a ballerina can weave her way through the world, with a smile, into college, while killing herself the entire time right under her parents' noses. Using her crafted skills with the pen and forcing personalism by narrating her own work, Hornbacher buried herself under my skin with her story. In a world that glamorizes the thin with fashion contracts, while ridiculing the heavy as freaks and misfits, Wasted serves as a billboard of our hypocrisy. (Jock C.)
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Summary

Precociously intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and ambitious, Marya Hornbacher grew up in a comfortable middle-class American home. At the age of 5, she returned home from ballet class one day, put on an enormous sweater, curled up on her bed, and cried because she thought she was fat. By age 9, she was secretly bulimic, throwing up at home after school, while watching 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. Marya's story gathers intensity with each passing year. By the time she is in college and working for a wire news service in Washington D.C., she is in the grip of a bout of anorexia so horrifying that it will forever put to rest the romance of wasting away. Down to 52 pounds and counting, Marya becomes a battlefield: her powerful death instinct at war with the will to live.
Why would a talented young girl go through the looking glass and slip into a netherworld where up is down, food is greed, and death is honor? Why enter into a love affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Marya Hornbacher sustained both anorexia and bulimia through 5 lengthy hospitalizations, endless therapy, the loss of family, friends, jobs, and ultimately, any sense of what it means to be "normal." In this vivid, emotionally wrenching memoir, she recreates the experience and illuminates the tangle of personal, family, and cultural causes underlying eating disorders.
©1998 Marya Hornbacher (P)1998 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Emma Jones on 13-06-17

Why abridged?

This is a great story for angst-ridden teens and twenty-somethings. Unglamorous and honest. But why abridged? I always feel cheated by these short stories.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Josephine Sayers on 30-05-11

Close to my heart

Such a heart-rending memoir, but such a favourite of mine. It has all the poetic beauty of Plath and the gritty realism of Irivine Welsh. Thank you, Marya, for sharing your story and letting us know we're not alone.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Emily on 17-05-12

abridged memoir

I love this book, so I jumped at the chance to hear the author read it. I do wish it was unabridged, however, as there are some really good, key parts that are missing--things I really wanted to hear her say.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By RaisinNut on 09-08-13

Glamorless...

In “Wasted,” Marya Hornbacher’s battle with her body is nothing short of epic, but unlike a true epic it is far from heroic. Hornbacher is the unlikely antagonist in her own life story, hating her body to the very brink of death. “Wasted” captures every dramatic, painful and often repulsive detail. If you can bear to look at it, you will glimpse in raw form the gruesome reality of eating disorders. There is no glamor here. There is hunger, vomit, blood and bones.

This abridged version of “Wasted,” read by Hornbacher herself, is so seamless that I did not even realize it was abridged until I discovered this fact in another listener’s review. Hornbacher is the perfect narrator. No other reader could get this story so right.

If you are hoping for a happy ending, Hornbacher advises you to look elsewhere. She denies the existence of a happy ending to her story, claiming that the best one can hope for in the end is simply “letting go.”

But here is a secret – many years have passed since this book was written. During those years Hornbacher continued to struggle with her eating disorder, and she came face to face with a terrible mental illness that left her grasping for sanity and hope (see “Madness: A Bipolar Life). In the end, she managed to do better than just let go. She conquered and overcame. And, lucky for the rest of us, she lived to write about it.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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