Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: March 19, 2009
Page Count: 288
Genre: Young Adult fiction
My Rating: 4.5/5
Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way – thin, thinner, thinnest – maybe she’ll disappear altogether.
Reading Wintergirls can not really be described as a pleasant experience. Lia is a very, very sick girl who needs to come to terms with that fact and accept the help that everyone in her life wants to get for her. But she can’t accept that. She also can’t stop thinking about Cassie, Cassie who used to be her everything, Cassie who she didn’t speak to for several months, Cassie who called her that one night thirty-three times, Cassie who died not too long after that thirty-third phone call. So Lia spends 99% of her time obsessing – either obsessing about Cassie, or obsessing about food. And reading this book with Lia as the narrator, this girl who is thisclose to death, who is literally starving herself, is tough. It breaks your heart to read her thoughts and feelings because you just want to hug her, you just want to help her, you just want her to help herself. But she doesn’t… and you keep reading. And the book keeps getting more uncomfortable.
Not to say that Wintergirls isn’t a fabulous book. I actually found it to be pretty amazing. It is kind of scary how well Anderson wrote this book… how well she could look into the mind of a girl suffering from anorexia. From what I know of the disorder, Lia is an extremely accurate portrayal of an anorexic girl, which is probably why the book is so difficult to read. Most of us (especially women) know someone who has, either now or in the past, suffered from an eating disorder. If you don’t, well to be honest with you – you probably just haven’t found out yet. I personally know several people who have struggled with various eating disorders over the course of the time I have known them. Some of them are better now, some are not. This book is so hard to read because it’s that same experience, that of being on the outside, of watching someone you love literally kill themselves slowly, and not being able to do a darn thing about it. It’s pretty terrifying.
One thing that I especially loved about Wintergirls is how realistic the adults in the book were. In many YA books, the parents are completely clueless and not at all good characters. Even though Lia felt like her mom, dad, and stepmom were awful people who didn’t care about her, Anderson did a great job showing that they were kind and loving people who desperately wanted Lia to get help, but they just didn’t know HOW to help her. The fact that Anderson was able to show this while still writing the characters through Lia’s eyes is remarkable to me, and it shows what an amazing writer she is.
I highly recommend Wintergirls. It is fabulously written, and even though it’s a difficult book to read, it’s got that bittersweet thing going on. Once you begin reading it, you hope along with Lia’s parents that something will click for her and she’ll finally get some help… and you just keep reading, hoping and praying for that to happen. Does it happen? Well, I’m not telling… go read the book!!
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