Marya Hornbacher was severely anorexic and bulimic from the age of nine into her college years. In this memoir she attempts to explain the experience of having an eating disorder. The picture is grim. Hornbacher cannot locate a single cause for her eating disorder. Certainly there are plenty of the regularly-accepted influences: a family that's weird about food, a society in which women are rewarded for being quiet and skinny, and so on. While living at boarding school Hornbacher was surrounded by girls with eating disorders, hers, too, was already formed. By the time she was in college Hornbacher was nearly dead. The portrait of eating disorders that emerges from this memoir is complex and frightening. There are no simple causes and no simple answers. It is scary how easy it is for Hornbacher, as a desperately ill girl, to fall under the radar of anyone's ability to help, even parents and doctors. Hornbacher's analysis of her disease is thoughtful. She makes interesting points, and argues that anorexia in not, necessarily, an effort to remain a child. Light reading this is not, but essential for those who would like to understand more about eating disorders.