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Book Review: Wintergirls

Posted on the 20 July 2012 by Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

Book Review: WintergirlsTitle: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Series: N/A
Publisher: Speak
Publish Date: 3/19/2009
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Wintergirls
Grade: A

Summary: “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 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 step-mother 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.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia. (via Goodreads)

Shaunta’s Review: There is a scene in Wintergirls that, among all the scenes that rang true, really rang true for me. In the scene, Lia’s stepmother Jennifer has to weigh her once a week, and keeps the data in a little notebook. She fusses over how much or how little Lia eats. She doesn’t know how to handle it all, exactly, especially with Lia spiraling again. But in this one scene, Lia asks if she can take her 8-year-old stepsister. Emma, for an ice cream. Jennifer hesitates, then says not that day. Emma, the little stepsister, isn’t really little and Jennifer knows it.

The whole book does a scary-good job of getting right into the head of eating disorder. Right. Up. In. There. But this particular scene does just as good a job of showing how toxic the desire to be perfect and thin and have perfectly thin children really is. How deeply ingrained it is.

Laurie Halse Anderson has a rare talent for putting readers right into a character’s head. Lia’s head isn’t a comfortable place to be. She’s got some serious problems. She’s being haunted on just about every possible level, including the ghost-story level. Wintergirls reads like a horror story, only it’s even scarier because it’s so intensely true.

This book was difficult for me to read, but I could not put it down. It ends with hope, which for me is essential. Especially in this kind of heart-wrenching story.

WHAT I LOVED: Laurie Halse Anderson is an insanely talented writer. Her ability to open up a character and drop a reader inside for the length of a novel is awe-inspiring. This is not a middle-of-the-road book. You’re either going to love it or hate it. I love that Anderson didn’t shy away from that. Not even a little bit. I love that even though the book as a whole is difficult and a little scary to read, it ends on a hopeful (but not over-the-top, everything-is-all-better-now) note. I love that Lia didn’t fall in love with Elijah.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE: This is a difficult book. I don’t generally like to be so upset by reading. My only real complaint, though, is that I would have liked to have known more about the origins of Lia’s eating disorder.

GRADE: I won’t ever read this book again. Once was enough. It was super tough to get through even that once, but it was supposed to be. It gets an A from me, for doing exactly what it set out to do. I’m not sure I’d recommend this book to anyone who is going through, or has gone through, an eating disorder. It’s one big trigger from start to finish. But for someone who is trying to understand what’s behind a preoccupation with food and body size, it must be one of the best books available.

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