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.