Marya Hornbacher is the central character and writer of this memoir. In the book she shares the story of her 11 year battle with bulimia and anorexia. Marya is the daughter of Judy and Jay Hornbacher. Marya writes that even as an infant her eating habits are strange. She has a variety of allergies and can eat only a mixture of ground lamb and goat's milk. As a child, Marya spends much of her time in the theater where her parents work. It is in the theater that Marya learns that changing one's appearance can change who you are. When Marya and her family moves from their home in California to Minnesota, Marya develops a variety of strange neuroses, including bulimia. She is only nine years old the first time she forces herself to throw up. Marya's bulimia continues throughout her grade school years.