“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.
Why I Read This Book
I really hadn’t heard a lot about Wintergirls, but I had been hearing so much praise for Laurie Halse Anderson. When I was in the bookstore, I kept seeing the spine for Wintergirls, but never actually picked it up to look closer. When I finally did, I was struck by how beautiful the book actually is — the cover glimmers in colours and is absolutely gorgeous. When I saw it was about an eating disorder, I was intrigued. I had only read a few books on the topic and enjoyed them all. That mixed with the praise for Anderson meant I just had to pick this up (oh, and it was on sale — score!).
I don’t ever really need a reason to buy books. Usually when I go into a bookstore, I spend LOTS of time scouring the shelves to find a book on my wishlist at just the right price. Sometimes I find one, sometimes I don’t. But sometimes, I find a gem among the masses and masses of books on the shelves. Wintergirls was one of those.
I knew that this book was about anorexia, but I really wasn’t prepared for how far Anderson wrote Lia’s character into the disorder. I’m not anorexic and I really don’t know anyone who has had the disorder, but I know enough to know that once you dive into it, it’s hard to get out. Lia’s character got so far into it that she’s having a hard time getting out.
This is a hard book to talk about because it’s hard to look at Lia and see what she’s doing to herself and see her understand that she needs help — but behind that need, there’s also fear.
I felt that the characters were so well written in this book — especially Lia’s character and her family. I can’t even come to think about what a family would go through, knowing that someone had died from anorexia, knowing that their daughter is still fighting that battle. The whole book was both an eye-opener and a heartbreaker.
The best thing about this book was Anderson’s writing. I could understand how some readers might shy away from her writing style — it’s different, almost poetic, sometimes jarring. From the first few pages I was intrigued. I really enjoyed the writing and felt that it flowed perfectly. It reflected the confusion, the anxiety, and the stress that was going through Lia’s head so well that once you were in there, it was hard to get out.
As I was reading, I couldn’t help comparing the book to a car wreck — and that’s not a bad thing. It’s hard reading about a character where you want to scream at her, you want to help her, but you can’t because you’re just the reader. But for a book to feel so real, for a character to feel like they’re reading their deepest and most private thoughts to you — it’s hard to just sit back and take it in and not be affected.
I thought this was a wonderful book, but be warned — this isn’t a trip to the park. You’re not taking a roller coaster ride, eating cotton candy, and confiding with your best friend. Instead, you’re taking her hand and walking straight into a pit of fire. You’ll want to turn back, but you won’t.
Laurie Halse Anderson is a force to be reckoned with. I plan to pick up some of her other books to see what else she has to offer because Wintergirls truly was one of the best.
If you’re not scared away from books about eating disorders, or books written in a different way from the norm, READ THIS BOOK! If you’re looking for something moving, heartbreaking, and real, READ THIS BOOK!
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