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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 27 April 2003
I read 'Wasted' in one day, once i had picked it up, it was actually impossible for me to leave it. It is one of those books where opening it at any page offers you compulsive reading, and it is true to say that Hornbacher offers a very frank and blunt view of something that, instrinctly, is very complicated. The book did almost inspire me, however, and i do not believe that her desire to help others and stop them from doing what she did, is fulfiled. Having already suffered from bulemia for a year before reading, i found the book full of new ideas, lies and ways of keeping the lifestyle i had, maintained. This is clearly unintentional, but the descriptions of emotion, power, simplicity, ease and almost the glamourisation of the eating disordered existence, would intrigue even those who had never considered it before. I am certainly not advising anyone to miss out on this book, it is an amazing read, words cannot explain how capturing it is until you actually pick it up, but i am advising people to be careful about what they take from it. My congratualtions do go out to Marya Hornbacher for finding exactly the right words for feelings, actions and emotions for things that only people who suffer like her would understand, and so far, i was unable to find. The connection you can make with what she is saying is formidable, amazing, and shocking in some parts because you really believe your the only one fighting and suffering. Marya Hornbacher shows you brutally how wrong you were. An excellent read.
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on 12 March 2006
Ive just finished this book and it shocked me how well the Hornbacher decribes eating disorders. I have suffered with a combination of bulimia and to a lesser extent, anorexia for years. There is no other way to say what it does to you except to say that eating disorders are soul destroying. There are days when I want to curl up and die because I know that there is no easy way out but this book shows that however ill you can become, you can also get through. Wasted is a shockingly honest book. Some may say that Hornbacher is almost encouraging readers to toy with the idea of extreme dieting, but I disagree. She is telling the way it really is. Yes, she was an extreme case but it happens and it is terrifying. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the thought process behind bulimia and anorexia. If you have an eating disorder and want a trigger book or some sort of motivation, dont bother. You wont find it here.
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You can read many accounts of Eating Disorders, but this one has to be one of the most disturbing, well written and incisive. Marya writes clearly and without self-pity, about the start of her disease, when she is young and bulimic, until the climax of anorexia when she enters into a disturbing account of severe mental illness. She never explains why she got the disease, probably because she can't explain it to herself, but her description of her state of mind and the people around her's reaction to her disease is brilliant. She says she wants to write this book to stop other people going down the same route. I have no doubt she will succeed, because this book is horrific and terrifying. She adds information from supposed experts into the book, and quite often mocks therapists who have no idea about her illness, so together with her honest self-analysis it makes for an educational read. Don't expect any answers or miracle cures however. The quality of her writing is high, and I'm sure any book by her is well worth the read.
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on 3 March 2006
There are so many books out there about eating disorders being 'all about control', or about some teenager who made a miraculous recovery; this squashes those books flat with its honesty and realism. This shows you how it really is, and the language Hornbacher has used to convey the confused, disorientated feeling you get when you're starving and purging yourself to death is spot on. As a sufferer of both anorexia and bulimia, there were some points where I had to put the book down because I felt so faint, because what she was describing felt so true, but this is a book that grips you and demands your attention because once you've started it, you can't think of anything else until you've finished it.

Hornbacher makes no apologies for what she's been through and she doesn't sugar-coat anything. Hers may be a particularly dramatic journey through eating disorders but sufferers will identify with the all-consuming nature of the illness, and those with an interest in the subject can see for themselves just how truly horrifying eating disorders really can be. All is not 'happily ever after' at the end of this book, which keeps in fitting with Hornbacher's honest style. Marya closes the book with the reminder that if you've suffered for a long time, the illness will never really leave you. This may sound depressing but it makes you realise (if you're ill) you never want to be as ill as Marya was, and if you've never suffered, it makes you realise you never want to start down the path of starving, bingeing and purging yourself to death. It's inspiring in its realism, and is the most honest book I've ever read.
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VINE VOICEon 19 January 2005
'Wasted' is the first book I have ever come across that approaches the subject of eating disorders with unflinching honesty. Hornbacher's writing style is sharp, intelligent, and caustic. She does not waste time wallowing in self-pity or blaming other people for the development of her eating disorders. She does not attempt to portray herself as a golden-haloed saint who overcame every obstacle. As a result, she appears far less than perfect - and the reader admires her for it. This autobiography has a human face.
It seems as if any recovered anorectic who wants to relive their hell on the page can easily find a publisher these days, simply because the subject material is topical and fascinating and frightening. So it is rare, rare indeed to find an author with Hornbacher's intelligence and her gift for turning it into incisive, lucid prose. As well as being the most brutally honest book on eating disorders, 'Wasted' is easily the most well-written. Other reviewers have accused it of being too triggering, but I loved this aspect of the book - not because I am an anorectic who is desperate for graphic triggers (any anorexic brain can provide those in abundance) but because the narrative reveals the full extent of the destructive anorexic obsession. Yes, it is an obsession, and not one that should be side-stepped in sugar-coated prose. If you are 'interested' in the world of eating disorders and choose to subsist off a diet of that type of book, fine - just don't expect to ever learn what it is really like. As I am a psychology student with an exam paper to complete on the subject of eating disorders, Marya's insights were invaluable to me - she interweaves her story with useful accounts of psychological studies into anorexia.
The only fault I have to find with 'Wasted' is the lack of dialogue. The reader has to rely too heavily on Marya's assessment of people's behaviour. Some people, like Julian, remain mystery shadows that we cannot penetrate. If she had included more snippets of conversation, the people who populate the book's pages might have been brought to life. However, perhaps this was intentional - it certainly shows the reader how painfully lonely a life with anorexia can be...
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on 23 September 2003
Having a fascination with body dysphoria and cultural clashes of all sorts that are fought on internal terrain, I totally loved 'Wasted.' A deeply revealing book about Hornbacher's pain, lies, family discord, messy bodily functions and lost years, 'Wasted' holds the interest of those into voyeuristic despair, much as 'Prozac Nation' did for me.
But it's not just some dreary recovery tome. Hornbacher does not pull her punches about the vomiting, the starving, the mental breakdowns and the twisted relationships she grapples with. You really feel like you're there. Also, her research is extensive. I particularly found useful her use of common psychological and psychoanalytic approaches to eating disorders. She critiques anorexia/bulimia myths, medical responses to these disorders and assumptions the 'average person' makes about eating disorders, without losing her subjective voice. This is an incredible achievement.
I have to admit I have become rather fixated by the book. I dip in and out of it. I am myself a bit overweight and don't relate to the eating disorder lifestyle personally, but what it draws out in me is the personal experience of the cultural struggles women face, written large on our bodies.
It's a must. Truly.
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on 27 December 2006
For anyone who has ever had an eating disorder and for anyone who has not this is one of theose books that is compleatly essential. I read it shortly before I was admitted into an eating disorders clinic. I was extremely ill. Yet despite that fact it really struck hard with me. I would recommend it to anyone that would ever say that an eating disorder is not a serious psychiatric condition. Hornbacher level of self destruction was what I really identified. she was determined to kill herself, it is the most brutally honest book on eating disorders that I have ever read.
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on 31 December 2008
The good: The writing is fast, original, and entertaining. Marya Hornbacher is a great storyteller.

The bad: Despite the blurb, this book glamorises eating disorders. It makes it all seem easy. Marya boasts about losing weight at the drop of a hat (if this were really the case, she'd have gotten thin much faster than she did). She portrays herself as irresistable to men (despite admitting to looking awful because of her anorexia; so I gather the men she slept with must have been a poor lot). She credits herself with too much wit (while in reality her mind must have been utterly dull for most of the time).

I think she's a talented writer, but self-absorbed, hypocritical, and frankly dishonest.
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on 14 June 2006
this book was fantastic, an honest account of a devastating illness. i have an eating disorder and could relate throughout the whole book, and she made me start eating again. an inspiring account, would also be helpful if you don't understand the illness.

one of my favourate books.
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on 13 February 2007
Are there any words to describe the accuracy and factuality of this book?

As an ex-anorectic myself, I have had to start reading this book many times before plucking up the courage to read it all. It is so painfully true, and so down to earth, that I sometimes felt as though Hornbacher was writing MY biography. Unlike most other eating disorder memoirs, this book isn't an attempt at portraying eating disorders as a glamorous phase, or textbook condition. It presents to the reader the harsh day-to-day reality that anorexic people (and their close friends or relatives) are faced with both during and after the disorder while also giving truthful insight into what goes on in an anorectic's mind. The conflict, pain, satisfaction, despair, loneliness, anguish, and liberation.....all beautifully summed up in 289 pages of well-crafted modern literature.
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