Wintergirls

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How did I get it?:
I bought it.

Synopsis:

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery

Thoughts:

This is the second book I’ve read by Laurie Halse Anderson. (The first being Speak, a few days ago). I think it’s safe to say that she’s becoming one of my favourite writers. Wintergirls was brilliant. Laurie isn’t afraid to write about tough issues. She writes so realistically, her subjects are clearly well researched. Wintergirls is a powerful, emotional read about two teenage girls with weight issues.

Lia is the protagonist. She’s 18 and has already been hospitalised with anorexia. She is still fighting against food, finding ways not to eat, constantly counting calories and counting bites that she takes, exercising by night and other worrying ways to avoid food. It really was quite disturbing, but I imagine realistic. Lia feels stronger without any food inside her. Terrifying.

As the story begins, Lia’s childhood friend has been found dead in a motel room. Cassie suffered with bulimia. She binges and then brings up food. Cassie is found alone, she had tried to contact Lia. Lia didn’t want to speak to her as they’d grown apart over the months. Lia now has to deal with her guilt about not being there for her friend when she needed her. Lia becomes thinner by the day, begins to hallucinate, self-harm, faint and become gravely ill.

Laurie really doesn’t hold back with this story. I find that incredibly admirable with such a contentious subject. Laurie doesn’t say what may have lead Lia to anorexia but mentions significant things about Lia’s life so far. Lia has crippling low self-esteem. Her background is troubled, her parent’s divorced, her father remarried, her mother loves her job way too much. Lia stalks the pro-anorexia websites. I can’t believe these websites exist. I’d heard about them before, but reading some of the sorts of messages posted on these sites really upset me. I did like though that Lia had a clear support network and a reason to live, namely her young step-sister Emma.

I really can’t express enough about how powerful and candid this book is about anorexia. It’s not an easy read, not at all. Yet, it’s so hard to put down. Laurie really portrays Lia’s need for control, her desire to eat but her fears about eating.

I have seen some complaints about the book’s formatting, especially the crossing through of text. I didn’t mind it. I thought it was quite effective. I liked the repetitive text at points and the odd words formatted in a different way. I think it was an effective way to highlight the confusion and the turmoil Lia is experiencing.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!- I would recommend this book to teens and adults. It really is a candid, disturbing tale of the damage anorexia can do to the person and their families.

Reading next:

Confessions of An Angry Girl- Louise Rozett

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8 thoughts on “Wintergirls

  1. I’m so glad you liked this one. I feel it definitely needs more attention. I’m with you. I love books that play with the text – like The Knife of Never Letting Go – it makes me feel like I’m in the character’s head as he she is editing him/herself. I wrote a poem a long time ago that I was reminded of when I read Wintergirls. I’m going to post it on my blog tomorrow. It’s called They Said.

  2. Pingback: Scripted Stanzas: They Said | Matched Manuscripts: Reviews and Recommendations

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