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Publisher's 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 five 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. Wasted is the story of one woman's travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back again - on her own terms. 

©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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What listeners say about Wasted

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

14 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Abridged=Horrible

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. Everything pertinent is left out and I was beyond disheartened when one of my top 3 books was butchered. Bad call.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marya

What does Marya Hornbacher bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great charisma, but the throwing away of 50% of her amazing (in book) biography hurt me.

Was Wasted worth the listening time?

yes and no

Any additional comments?

GET AN UNABRIDGED VERSION!!!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

I've read this book atleast 3 times. The book itself is written to not keep any part of bulimia or anorexia hidden. It explains all and every feeling imagined and felt. When I had the chance to download this book with Marya's own voice reading her own words, it was a chance to listen to how she speaks. Her words, sometimes haunts, sometimes makes me speak outloud to nobody, saying things like, "Yes, that's true." It's an amazing book to have on audio. Download this book, and listen to it. You'll be glad you did.

14 people found this helpful

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Quick read, hard to put down

If you're like me and you find mental illness fascinating this is a really well written first person account of what it's like to struggle with Anorexia Nervosa. It's interesting to see how an eating disorder begins and spirals out of control.

I saw a documentary with this author recently where she stated that she was young when she wrote this book and it triggered her eating disorder. Perhaps that is why there are many people who consider this entire book a trigger and have mixed emotions about it. I'd be interested to read her take on the events now, many years later, as recovered as anyone could be.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Gut Wrenching

I have not read the unabridged version, but do not feel I need to. The adbridgement seems superb, and hearing the author read it gives the story sometimes unbearable emotional impact. This is not an easy listen. The author's unflinching honesty is, at times, very painful. The story is not a happy one, and you will find absolutely NO sugar-coating. What you will find is an amazingly talented writer bringing to bear her considerable skill to the description of her self-destructive eating disorder. To hear this from her point of view has taught me much that a textbook never could.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story of obsession and self-loathing

This was a really interesting memoir, with a real insider's view of the anorexia and bulemia. I have never had an eating disorder, so I have always wondered what could drive a person to commit a long, torturous suicide in this way. I felt I had learned something after listening to this book, while also being entertained from beginning to end. I almost wish there was a follow-up memoir to find out what happens to her later in life.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An Excellent Window...

Into the life of an anorexic, bulimic. For those of us who can't imagine a compulsion to starve it is almost incomprehsible. I was struck by how functional the writer was even during her worst times..Excelling in theatre, writing and more...She doesn't give herself enough credit for that. I think all mothers of teen girls should make time for this story..there is a lot to learn regarding what NOT to do and say to our daughters..

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Honest and enlightening

I listen to this amazing book to remind me why I chose life. Marya's dry humour and brutal honesty make this a fantastic listen. Any ED survivor will relate to all - especially the little details of hospilization. Truthful, heartfealt, a courageous decision by the author. Fantastic!

3 people found this helpful

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Wish it was unabridged

Dear Audible,
Please release an unabridged version. Why even abridge audiobooks?
Sincerely,
An audio book obsessive.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Emma Jones
  • 06-13-17

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.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Josephine
  • 05-30-11

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-21-21

Poor quality recording

This was impossible to listen to - very muffled and poor quality. This needs to be removed

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  • Alice LUshington
  • 12-19-20

Difficult, sad, profound

Jesus. This spoke to me. In a lonely ,un-lonely kind of way. I can't explain it. But what I will say is be careful if you have an eating disorder. I found this both immensely helpful and triggering all at once. It gets sadder and sadder and sadder.
Gosh.
What a talent though.
Read with caution fellow suffers, this book can be helpful or dangerous, whichever you let it be.

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  • Sofia K
  • 12-10-20

hard hitting

a really raw and gritty account of an eating disorder. I enjoyed her writing style a lot, It feels like a conversation with a friend. Parts where quite hard to listen to but I think if you have someone in your life with an ED this book will give you a really detailed insight into what is happening in their head. unless you've been there, it is so hard to comprehend why someone might engage in this behaviour but this book lays it out really well.

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  • Susan Sweeney
  • 02-17-19

very informative

I found this book very easy to listen to - it kept my attention throughout - the author writes very well. I am interested in any form of addiction and found it a fascinating, absorbing and very honest read.
I listened to it during a car journey and the 100 miles passed in no time.

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  • Luna Johns
  • 06-15-18

Marya is honestly just so wonderful

Fantastic book, even better to listen to. Marya's narration is the best I have heard.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-18

loved it as much this time as the 1st time & after

A brutally honest, untinted reflection on one life with ED and the mania that comes with it. Beautiful writer.

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  • Bee W
  • 11-09-17

Adore this book.

The way it’s wrote and spoke. The way she describes things you can literally walk through her memories and it’s so interesting to be there.

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  • Joshua
  • 10-29-15

Fascinating Story, Beautifully Read by the Author

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The book offers a unmatched look inside the mind of a person with an eating disorder, and the consequences that follow.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Wasted?

There are moments where you can see right into the mind of the author, and you can feel the full range of her emotions, her pain, her desire to live. You will understand her and not understand her at the very same time.

What about Marya Hornbacher’s performance did you like?

Read with character and conviction, so full of life. Only the author could give such a convincing performance/

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-05-18

audio is shocking

I couldnt get through 1 chapter of this without off. the worst audio I've ever heard. who do I contact for a refund?

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rachel
  • 07-15-15

Beautifully well-written

I can't believe the author was only 23 when she penned this book. So powerful and riveting. I loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-26-17

Brilliant but hard to read

This book is legend of course and for good reason it's beautifully written and gives fantastic insight into the writers mind and eating disorder. However the writer is so bright that combined with her unique writing style this book is harder to read than most. Not an easy listen but well worth the effort thanks

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  • debbie williams
  • 10-25-17

Haunting

A well written book that gives insight into the mind of an addict. Sad and thought provoking.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-14-17

a harrowing tale.

It's pretty quick and ruthlessly honest. I like listening to audiobooks read by the author themselves, it makes Wasted particularly raw.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Blackmagic
  • 07-12-16

Fascinating, sad and shocking.

By the end I wanted to listen to more. Some of the story shocked me though the poetic writing of the scenes are beautiful. It did take a few chapters to draw me in. This true story is quite sad.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph
  • 06-15-16

Indulgent and monotonous

Indulgent and monotonous. Ended up not caring whether the wasted away or not. Dull reading