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Wintergirls Paperback – CLV, February 23, 2010
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The New York Times bestselling story of a friendship frozen between life and death
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope.
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: 2/23/2010
- Pages: 288
- Reading Level: Age 12 and Up
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In Wintergirls, Anderson does what gives me toe-curls when I'm reading fiction-- an arresting, fascinating unreliable narrator who gives you entryway into what its like to experience the world outside of the "norm."
Lia's best friend, Cassie, died alone in a hotel and now Lia's parents are tip-toeing around her, checking up on how much she eats, and forcing her to go to therapy sessions early.
Lia plays the dutiful daughter, but Cassie's ghost is haunting her, taunting her about how much she eats. Soon Lia is nuking food in the microwave so the kitchen will smell, but burying the food so her parents won't know she isn't eating.
She's painfully aware of the calories in even a tablespoon of cream cheese, and only feels in control when her weight gets closer and closer to her ideal of 95.0 pounds or she's letting loose all the bad feelings and hateful words through slicing her own flesh with razor blades.
Wintergirls is written in Lia's inner monologue, crossed out words and all she won't even let herself think (she crosses out "mom" and substitutes "Dr. Marrigan" instead). It's a disjointed, haunting view of seeing the world through a self-hate lens, and Lia's voice will stay with you long after you put the book down. I was fascinated by the ring of truth behind Lia's strategies to fool her parents and also the voices of the other girls online.
Probably not a book you'd want younger YA readers to attempt without some talk about anorexia, and self-destruction beforehand. Probably not a path you'd want to walk down if you're feeling emotionally vulnerable, either, as Lia's pain and that of her family is real and un-tempered.
I downloaded this book last month because it was on sale for $2.99 and I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. I had heard of Laurie Halse Anderson because Speak is a banned book and that gets a lot of publicity during banned books week. Wintergirls came to my attention when I read Writing Irresistible KidLit by Mary Kole. It was one of the books she referenced as an example in several of the chapters.
Wintergirls is a meat and potatoes kind of book. It sticks with you long after you read it. Lia is a high school senior struggling with an eating disorder. Her former best friend has recently died and the story covers the short time period after her death. I don't want to say too much, otherwise I'll give the story away. Suffice to say, it's worth reading.
Ms. Anderson tackles tough issues with grace and respect. Her writing style is easily read, without speaking down to the reader. Despite her books being geared toward the young adult crowd, they can also be enjoyed by adults. I wouldn't place them in the new "new adult" genre, because they're not.
One of the things that stuck out for me in Wintergirls was how smart Lia is. She knows she's not okay, but she's helpless to change it, at least for a while. I imagine it's the same with any disease - you know there's something wrong with you and you know you should do something to change it or find a way to feel better, but you feel stuck and unsure where to go from where you are.
"What do I want?
The answer to that question does not exist."
Although this book is close to three hundred pages, I finished it in three days. I never read books that fast - I don't have endless time to read and I'm kind of a slow reader - but Anderson's writing style is such that you can breeze through the chapters in a couple of minutes. Some of the chapters are only two or three pages. To me, that's a sign of a good book - one that hooks you in the first few pages so well that you can't put it down until you finish.
I believe that you've created a metaphorical universe in which you can express your darkest fears. In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves, and sometimes we do such a good job, we lose track of reality.
This was just one of my favorite lines in the story. I'd recommend Wintergirls to anyone who is struggling with anything, whether it's an eating disorder or something else, because in the end, it's a story of hope.
Disclaimer: I purchased Wintergirls from Amazon. All opinions are my own.
Most recent customer reviews
This book, this book, this book! There are no words to describe this book.Read more
Nope, it isn’t going to teach you how to be anorexic, that comes from within, and no,...Read more