?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.
A good read Lia met Cassandra "Cassie" when they were both in grade school. Lia was the popular one. Cassie got picked one for being new and maturing before most of the other girls. You wouldn't imagine Lia and Cassie having anything in common but they shared a lot in common. Like any friends as you grow up you sometimes move apart. This was no different for Lia and Cassie.
Lia and Cassie just wanted to be normal girls and fit in. It is not easy when people around you are have opinions about you, in addition to the many ads that pictured super models as so called "real people". Cassie and Lia want to be skinny. All they have to do is count calories and essentially not eat anything. Why can't everyone understand? They all act they care but they don't really; even Dr. Parker is happy when he hears what he wants to hear.
Wintergirls is a powerful story that touches on the sensitive subject of anorexia. When you inquire into in any touchy subjects, it can be sticky but author, Laurie Halse Anderson does it very well. The whole story was narrated by Lia. It was like I was in her body looking out at the rest of the world. What I liked about this story was that the parents did not give up on Lia. As I have read in so many stories, where the children have troubles the parents just want to ignore the issue and hope it will go away but that was not the case with Lia's parents, especially her mother. I cheered when Lia pulled through and fought her battle to become a fighter. Wintergirls is the first novel I have read by this author but it won't be the last. Wintergirls warmed my heart. ...more info
Hard to read but glad I did This was my first Laurie Halse Anderson book. Right off the bat I knew I would going to be slightly uncomfortable because of the subject matter of eating disorders and I was. It was really hard to read but I definitely was engaged, wanting to know what was going to happen to Lia, even though I didn't necessarily like her character. I think my favorite parts of the book were Lia being with her stepsister Emma, seeing how much she wanted to take care of her and be a role model.
Anderson's writing style was one I had never experienced before, it was very haunting and at times all the descriptions made me a little bit unfocused. I did like how Anderson crossed out a lot of words, that was an interesting technique that really showed Lia's internal struggle.
This was a really hard book to read and to like. But then again, eating disorders aren't something to like. It was very hard to watch Lia kill herself, to go from telling herself no I can't eat this to oh but I really want it. I just wanted to strap her down and make her eat. I don't think I've known anyone personally that deals with a severe eating disorder but I could definitely see through this book how much of an internal struggle it is and how heartbreaking it is to not be able to help yourself or even let anyone else help you.
I found the ending to be a bit rushed, I could have used a bit more. Because of how hard it was for me to read I can't say I really liked the book but I'm definitely glad I read it, it was very engaging and powerful. I look forward to reading some of the author's other books that will hopefully be easier for me to digest....more info
One of the more chilling books I've read I've read more than my fair share of scary stores--from the works of Edgar Allen Poe to Stephen King to Richard Matheson. But few of those works have ever chilled me, scared me and horrified me as much as Laurie Halse Anderson's "Wintergirls."
Part of it could be that Poe, King and Matheson are dealing in horrors that are terrifying but can be easily rationalized away as being supernatural in nature. The scary part of Anderson's novel is that what you're reading about is a...more I've read more than my fair share of scary stores--from the works of Edgar Allen Poe to Stephen King to Richard Matheson. But few of those works have ever chilled me, scared me and horrified me as much as Laurie Halse Anderson's "Wintergirls."
Part of it could be that Poe, King and Matheson are dealing in horrors that are terrifying but can be easily rationalized away as being supernatural in nature. The scary part of Anderson's novel is that what you're reading about is all too scarily real for a lot of young people in our world today.
Lia is a teenage girl with an eating disorder. The story is told from her first-person persepective, making it all the more compelling. As the story begins, Lia is coming to terms with the death of her one-time best friend Cassie. Cassie called Lia 33 times on the night of her death, but Lia never answered. Now, Lia is haunted by that in the most literal sense of the world. Cassie begins to appear to Lia, questioning her and slowly the novel reveals the nature of their friendship and the scary pact the two made together. One afternoon, the two decide to see who can be the thinnest among them.
The pact leads to two admissions to the hospital for Lia and she's slowly on the way to a third. Lia doesn't purge like Cassie does. Instead she denies herself anything more than 500 calories a day and spends hours exercising to try and reduce the few remaining pockets of perceived fat on her body. Lia is convinced that if you can't see bones through her skin, then she's too fat.
The obsession with becoming thin is scarily and eerily presented here. Lia focuses on the weight she wants to be, at one point saying the ideal weight would be zero for herself. Lia also feels like she has tiny evil forces inside her that are only released by cutting herself. She also goes to great lengths to ensure that her step-mother and father don't realize she's losing weight, including drinking copious amounts of water before weigh-ins and sewing quarters into her robe that she wears during the weigh-ins.
Even the horrifying revelation of how Cassie died doesn't deter Lia from her path toward destruction.
Lia's story is a scary, dark one that is probably all too real for many young women in our world today. Anderson's decision to tell the story from inside Lia's head and to see her internal battle with wanting food and convincing herself she can't have it is one of many incredibly vivid moments in a book that will keep your attention. I read and liked her novel "Speak" because it allowed readers inside the character's head. "Wintergirls" follows the same convention but takes it to a wholly different level. Readers will both identify with Lia, but we're kept detached enough to see that what she's doing isn't heroic, but self-destructive. You'll be rooting for her to get the help she so desparately need and as the situation slowly sinks into greater and greater dispair, you'll be hoping and praying Lia won't meet the same end as Cassie. ...more info
Beautiful and Haunting This is the story of an adolescent girl suffering from anorexia. It details her weight obsession for her as well as others, her careful calorie counting, and even her troubled thoughts that lead to her eating disorder and her cutting.
Anderson has not failed with this YA novel. Her past YA accomplishments have also broached difficult, socially taboo subjects (Speak, etc.), but I caution parents and teachers to read this book before assigning it to children. It is heavy subject matter, but the way the story unfolds and the insight into the main character's troubled mind are intense- they were even heavy for me! I live and work at a co-ed boarding school and deal with eating disorders, cutting, aggression, distorted body image, and so much more. I would have to be very sure of the maturity and emotional stability of a girl before suggesting this book.
Wintergirls is a perfect glimpse into the mind of a girl whose actions are almost unimaginable. It also allows the reader to understand how perplexed her family is, how much her actions hurt them, and why they don't understand why she can't just stop killing herself. I suggest this book for any teacher, parent, or adult who regularly deals with the trials and tribulations of female adolescence. It will undoubtedly shed some light upon the pain and torture of all involved with eating disorders....more info
Disturbing but riveting! What can I possibly say that hasn't already been written? Anderson has always been one of my favorite authors ever. I've loved and recommended every single one of her books. Why? Because she writes with an unflinching honesty that draws teens, children and adults to her words. Wintergirls is no different. It's dark, gritty, emotional, heartbreaking, and unfortunately all too REAL. There are no answers in this book, only the deepest, rawest emotional experience of Lia as she journeys through her own personal hell to learn how to live again, to learn how to WANT to live again. I have never flagged so many passages in one book and there are far too many to list. Click here to visit my other blog if you're interested in reading all the passages that struck me so hard. But I am going to leave you with one of my favorite:
I inscribe three lines, hush hush hush, into my skin. Ghosts trickle out.
If you have never read a Laurie Halse Anderson book then you must! It's just that simple...go find any of them....they're all great, but don't let another day go by without experiencing this truly gifted author....more info
Powerful Seventeen year old Lia has been struggling with anorexia for years. Her best friend Cassie struggles with bulimia. When Lia is released from her rehabilitation program for the second time, Cassie tells her she's a bad influence and she doesn't want to be her friend anymore. A few months later, Cassie is found dead in a motel room alone. She left thirty three messages for Lia the night before, but Lia wouldn't return her calls. Now, Lia is seeing Cassie's ghost everywhere and while on a mission to find out how Cassie died, Lia begins spiraling out of control.
Wintergirls is told completely from the perspective of Lia. You are in her head from page one. At first, I thought the writing style was a little weird, but I quickly caught on to what the author was doing. There are parts of the book that are crossed out because it shows you what Lia's first thought was and then what she ended up actually saying or doing. Anderson really succeeded in making me feel like I was in this confused, scared teenager's head. This book is very raw and very powerful. I'd definitely recommend it....more info
Excellent...but it is about anorexia (and more) As an adult female with anorexia, I found this book to be an excellent and compelling look inside the (teenaged) eating disordered mind. Ms. Anderson has really nailed the kind of thinking that is so pervasive in eating disorders. It is true that the main character, Lia, has many problems; her anorexia just provides the tangible evidence. This book should be compulsory reading for anyone who wants to try and understand what it is like to be anorexic. That said, for anyone who is recovering from an eating disorder, be aware that this book has the potential to be very triggering (it was for me.)...more info
An intense and gripping portrait Lia's best friend, Cassie, had a falling out with her and Lia brushed her off. Even the night Cassie called her more than a dozen times. The night Cassie died.
Now, Lia is fighting not only her continuing battles with anorexia and cutting herself, she also is battling Cassie's ghost. Does she want to join the girl she used to call her twin?
Laurie Halse Anderson, who burst on the YA scene 10 years ago with the remarkable novel Speak, does it again with Wintergirls. Lia's attempts to survive high school, cope with her perfect mother, cope with her stepmother who indulges her stepsister, and put up with her father who would rather devote his time to his career, and it's no wonder Cassie's call has a siren song strain to it. What overwhelms Lia, in addition to the fact Cassie really died alone in a motel room while trying to call her, is trying to figure out how the strong and vibrant Cassie got herself into that situation.
The journey is one of self-discovery without Lia at first understanding this. Anderson's ability to convey a complex character such as Lia in first person, while letting the reader see her first-person narrator from other characters' eyes, is superb. She is assured enough to have Lia, in whatever format she is typing this story, occasionally strike through certain words and phrases that the reader can still see. Lia is thus endowed with a sardonic, yet honest, voice in her quest.
Anderson also is strong enough to have written a stark portrayal that the youngest YA readers may find horrifying, especially in a scene that horrifies Lia's younger stepsister. But what Lia thinks and feels has the gripping urgency of honesty that never rings false or overwrought for the sake of sensationalism.
Wintergirls is a powerful novel of one young woman's struggle to survive, let alone thrive, within the family she has and the choices she has made. Although it's not fair in one respect to compare this latest work to the groundbreaking Speak, because each work stands on its own, it is worth noting that Anderson has once again demonstrated how to write about one young woman's battles while weaving an even more complex and thought-provoking story.
Wonderful I swear to be the skinniest girl in school, skinnier than you
The only thing Lia wants is to be thin. She'd die for it, even. Having already been in for treatment for anorexia twice, Lia should be on the road to recovery. Only, she's not. After her ex-best friend dies after calling Lia 33 times, Lia succumbs to her inner demons, counts her calories obsessively and mutilates herself trying to forget about her friend and her stomach's constant pangs of hunger. Except, soon, Cassie (Lia's former friend) starts appearing to Lia as a ghost, calling Lia her wintergirl and telling her to join her in death. As Lia's body weakens, death seems to be her destiny. But does Lia allow Cassie to help her make the final push?
I read Wintergirls about a century ago. (Okay, not really...but close.) But even though Wintergirls isn't "fresh" in my mind, I still remember it as I would have if I had read it yesterday. And that is skill, on Laurie Halse Anderson's part.
Eating disorders are a topic that people dance around. They try to avoid discussing it and, when they do, they seem to only be able to preach about how to avoid such things. Many books have been written about these disorders, however, Wintergirls far surpasses those that I have read.
Lia's anorexia is portrayed clearly and painfully in the novel. She lies compulsively, hides coins in her bathrobe during weigh-ins, and conceals her emancipated body under layers of bulky clothing. Her self-destructive thoughts along with her obsessive calorie counting only serve to heighten Lia's condition.
Wintergirls is a horrible novel yet so amazing. Laurie Halse Anderson's prose mimics poetry; the words are perfectly chosen and when reading, the novel flows. Lia's obsessive need for control is seen as she even attempts to divert her thoughts by striking out her actual feelings and replacing them with the words she knows she must think. The characters in Wintergirl are well developed as well. Lia's parents, while well-meaning, only serve as an added fuel to Lia's anorexia. Whatever they mean to be an encourgement, provokes Lia into furthering her need for a weightless body. Both the father and the mother deal with their daughter's illness in different ways and are flawed, though they do mean well. Both act and seem like real people in the novel.Lia's stepsister, who at home adores her, is ashamed to be seen with Lia in public and Elijah, the guy Lia meets at the hotel that Cassie died at, is not what he seems. And Cassie, as a friend and as a ghost, has complicated motives...
Overall, Wintergirls is not a book to be missed. Even if you find the subject matter unappealing, I advise you to read the book anyways. The way Laurie Halse Anderson tackles the subject is unique and I found the pages to breeze by yet resonate with every turn. Make sure you get yourself a copy.
best book ever! i don't like to read very much, but when i read the reviews on this book i immediatley ordered it. wintergirls is amazing. i could really relate to the main girl in this story cuz i have been through anorexia so i have felt all that she wrote. it was crazy how on the dot she got with all the feelings and thoughts that go through an anorexic's mind. it was a very triggering book for me, but also gave me hope. its hard to explain this book...so you'll just have to read it yourself....more info
Good account of Anorexia I read the preview for this book and found myself hook and wanting to know more about this. It's written in a completely different format and brings the reader a chilling experience as you get (sort of) a first-hand experience of how anorexia affects people and what they think and especially HOW they think.
The story evolves around Lia who is the anorexic girl and you read through it and how she 'tricks' herself to becoming skinner and skinner. This book WILL have an pro-found effect on you. Reading it, however, you question if this is REALLY how those girls think and Anderson explains where she gets her sources from and its shocking, stunning and amazing.
I recommend this book and it's a great it....more info
Brilliant. A quick read, not an easy one Wintergirls was a truly engaging, fascinating read for me. Given the subject matter and the depth of her characters, it was very difficult at times to read, but more difficult to put down. Laurie Halse Anderson puts you right into the heart and mind of a girl with a serious internal struggle. She reminds you what it was like to be young and introduces you to some thoughts and battles and brings others back to memory. It was a truly touching story.
I am a longtime fan of Anderson. Her style of writing is unique, creative and extremely powerful. the depth of her characters is genius.
If you haven't read more of her work, most notably Speak, please do so. ...more info
mesmerizing, beautifly written There has been so much written about this book already, that I don't have much to add, except I want to give my two cents about this amazing book. I have read hundreds of books about eating disordors and I can honestly say that considering all the books I have read, this one has to be on the top my list of the best fictionalized book written on the topic. As a woman who has struggled with anorexia since preadolescence (which was many years ago), I have to say that Laurie Halse Anderson captured the mindset of anorexia in a young girl very accurately. Halse Anderson's writing style is absolutely intriguing and poetic. I have read other books written by her, and I am truly a great fan.
Wintergirls is deep and disturbing, but at the same time it is very real. The book incapsulates the true hell that eating disorder's evoke in the lives of those who suffer from them as well as their loved ones.
The only disappointment (if you could call it that) I have with this novel is that I thought it ended quite abruptly. I know the book could not last forever, but I felt the ending to be rushed. Up until the end of page 273, the story unfolded in a timely pace. In fact the book could've ended there on a very different and (for some) unsatisfactory albiet, realistic note. I am pleased however that it did continue. In fact one of the best passages (just one among many throughout the story) occured on page 275 where Lia accurately describes one great dilemma of the anorexic mindset: "I breathe in slowly. Food is life. I exhale, take another breath. Food is life. And that's the problem. When you are alive, people can hurt you. It's easier to crawl into a bone cage or a snowdrift of confusion. It's easier to lock everybody out." This is profound to me because in my own life I have often believed that anorexia is the one thing in my life that I have that no one can take away from me and it is the only thing I can rely upon in this cruel and painful world because people can always inevitablly hurt me. Anorexia does not betray me in my mind, yes it can kill me, and that is the ultimate price I will pay because nothing in this life comes for free, but for now it has and does keep me alive unlike any person can do.
No one knows what living an eating disorder is like except those who are unfortunate enough to live in such pain, I admire Laurie Halse Anderson for spending the time, energy and research it took for her to write such a harrowing, important, and timely book--for someone to write such a book who has not personally been there--what she has accomplished is truly amazing. I am in awe of this author and her writing. This remarkable book I will keep all the rest of the days of my life and I will read it again and again. Thank you Laurie Halse Anderson for touching the lives of all who read this book, and shedding light on a disease that very few can understand. ...more info
Depressing, but glad I read it for a better understanding. This book gave me a very disturbing and sad look into what could possibly be the mind of a person with an eating disorder. I had no experience with this and had a bit of a hard time reading it at first. But I am glad that I continued to read it. While it was well written and interesting, also very depressing. I still wouldn't want my daughters to read this. It was to suggestive to me. Not that it was intended to be at all, but was to me. I would recommend it to other adults only with notice of the subject first. But it was worth reading and I'm glad I did. ...more info
A Must-read!! Wow. Just wow. Laurie Halse Anderson sure outdid herself in this book.
This is an unflinching, gripping, stomach-turning look at anorexia and cutting but also how they affect not just the person with the problem, but their whole family.
Lia is not a character that you can relate to unless you suffer from eating disorders but nonetheless you are still drawn into her story, and you find yourself wondering will she get better? And Why does she do this to herself? Lia's voice rang true and just leapt from the page, especially by the book's lyrical prose and that it was written in diary entries. The secondary characters were just full of life, even the Cassie's ghost.
Wintergirls is not a light book and it's not for the weak-stomached since some scenes are just stomach-turning, can make you flinch, and can make you take a small breather (but Lia's story draws you back in after the breather).
I flinched a lot throughout the story and I had to take small breaks because some scenes--especially the cutting scenes--were just very strong and disturbing.
Some little things that I liked about the book and that just made Lia's story seem more real were the calorie numbers in parentheses, next to each food item that she mentioned.
Anderson's writing was just lyrical, honest, and amazing. This is her, in my honest opinion, best book yet. I liked how there were flashbacks to Lia's childhood and how she wove them into the story. It really showed what led Lia to make the choices that she did.
I know that my review doesn't do this book justice but it's so hard to put this book's amazingness into words. So I'll end this review with three words: BUY IT NOW.
Eloquently and unflinchingly raw Before WINTERGIRLS came out, I was dying to read this book. I even won an advance review copy in an online contest, but after waiting a month for it to arrive, I learned it was lost in the mail. After a long groan, I succumbed to the urge to buy my own hardcover copy when it came out in stores. Note that I very rarely shell out money for new books when I could just as easily put the book on hold at my library and wait for a while. But for WINTERGIRLS, I couldn't wait.
Why? First of all, I'd read some of Anderson's previous books, and I greatly admire her eloquently raw, realistic writing. Also, the premise behind WINTERGIRLS intrigued me, as my college studies at the time led me to examine body image and eating disorders in girls and women. I hoped WINTERGIRLS would help me understand the mindset of those people I had glimpsed on pro-anorexia and "thinspiration" websites.
After having read the book, I think it did. Anderson unflinchingly plunges readers into the mind of Lia, forcing us to vicariously count calories with her, punish our bodies for eating too much, cut ourselves to feel control. I won't lie and say it wasn't disturbing, almost scary. Every time I picked WINTERGIRLS up, I read through as much as I could before I had to put it aside, and when I did, I kept thinking of Lia and hoping she would see what she was doing to herself.
I wouldn't say Lia is a likable character, but I definitely don't think that's necessary for the creation of an intriguing protagonist deserving empathy. Anderson did a masterful job of making me feel angry, sad, and hopeful for Lia. Particularly through Lia's relationship with her little step-sister Emma, one of the people Lia can still show love for. Most of all, Anderson made me feel like I understood Lia.
I can't say more about WINTERGIRLS without giving too much away, but I can urge you to read the book yourself. Anderson is a powerful voice in today's young adult literature, and this novel will, at the very least, keep you thinking long after you read the last page....more info
Harrowing, Absorbing Tale I don't want people to just think this is a book "about" anorexia, it's actually so much more. Yes, eating issues are dominate throughout but there are undercurrants of family disfunction and a mixture of horror as well. The story itself is a journey into a type of madness that makes for a great, gripping read.
I had eating issues long before it had a name, back when girls did things in secret and there were no websites or articles on the subject. This takes a drastic look at what could happen with self-loathing if taken to the limit. Graphic and harrowing, you can feel the pain and raw emotion leak through every page. The ending has hope attached--and I really think this book could be used to reach many young adults, or at least start a dialog. ...more info
Hauntingly Brilliant Laurie Halse Anderson has brought us a revelation or perhaps a window into the life of a teenage anorexic. Lia is a high school student battling, or perhaps trying to live a normal life after she'd been institutionalized for her anorexia a few times. Her life consists of daily number crunching and painfully self imposed eating. She lies and hides what she wants and at times deceives her family and friends to get to what she really wants.
The two girls, Cassie and Lia, though once a best friends are now only a onlookers. They had a falling out and hadn't spoken for months. On that fateful night Cassie calls Lia 33 times. 33. And Lia ignores the phone call. Problem is her friend dies, alone in a motel room. And Lia is left wondering why Cassie called and how she died. Her parents earnestly try to protect her, so Cassie's death doesn't trigger her anorexia. Lia fights, tooth and nail, desperate for answers, desperate to control her life.
Lia in the process of finding answers finds it even easier to slip into herself. Things turn drastic and heavy and Lia is left on the edge, a Wintergirl, choosing to follow Cassie into death or live finally, though it might be harder.
Not only was Lia so hauntingly complex and real that I was urged from the very beginning to understand her. It wasn't hard. I myself have had issues with weight (who doesn't?). Lia held such a strong and conflicted voice that a week later will still haunt me. So strong that I wanted to literally bring her voice to life: so I read aloud.
The supporting characters are vividly real and her parents eerily reminded me of my own. They are the end puzzle pieces, or the edges and the corners of a puzzle that support Lia, but if the center, Lia, isn't there then they are left alone, desolate and sad.
I love the censorship, the cross outs that showed her constant, painful conflict with food and self image. I loved her OCD counting, number crunching, and her obsessiveness and her sarcasm. The constant torture to eat. It was hard to read at times, yet so captivated to see what Lia does next, thinks next, and eats next. I was so haunted to be in this world of low self-esteem and constant battle with natural inclinations of self preservation and the unnatural inclination that society has bestowed on the young generation to be thin and reward for it.
Laurie Halse Anderson, I am convinced, is a Writing GOD! I lack the words to express this book's genius. Poetry.Lyrical. Genius. Brilliant. Laurie gives life to words, more so than any author I've read recently. I found it interesting how Lia describes the kids at school during lunch, "tacosalad blond" all because of what she orders at lunch. Name isn't important really, food is.
The scratch outs.
Must Not Eat page
The 2 blank pages.
A masterpiece. Beautifully powerful and touching....more info
Haunting but worth the read Summary: Lia and her best friend Cassie made a pact to become skinny together. But then Cassie drops Lia, and a few months later Lia finds out Cassie has been found dead.
Review: I didn't want to read this. I knew what it was about--a girl with an eating disorder--and I didn't want to knowingly subject myself to that world of pain.
But then I went to my favorite locally owned bookstore to hear Laurie Halse Anderson speak. I got there too early and didn't have anything to read with me, so I picked up Wintergirls and read the first 15 pages. It took all my self control to put it back on the shelf and wait for it to come in at my library.
I finished this book in less than 24 hours, on a workday no less. Lia was so real to me that when I wasn't actually reading, she's all I could think about: Would she pull through? How long til she hit bottom? Would it be too late?
Lia's story haunted me because I know that countless girls out there have stories just like hers. Now that I have a daughter, this issue hits close to home. I can't protect her from the impossible idea of "beauty" on TV, in magazines, from other kids. What can I do as a parent to foster a healthy body image? I really don't know.
Reading Lia's story convinced me that not knowing the answer to that question is unacceptable. So if you know of any good nonfiction books on this topic, please let me know.
I highly recommend this amazing book. And when you're done reading it yourself, lend your copy to a parent you know....more info
WIntergirls- Anderson I just finished reading my Advance Reader Copy of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I LOVED it. I read it straight through in about three hours. It centers on an 18 year old high school senior, Lia's struggle with anorexia, self-injury, and. . . (see the rest of my review here: http://yalitgoodbadugly.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/wintergirls-laurie-halse-anderson-arc/...more info
A chilling and unforgettable read! It took me quite a while to write this review, because I just couldn't put into words how brilliant Wintergirls is. It's the first book I've read by Laurie Halse Anderson, and it definitely won't be my last.
Lia is battling anorexia, a battle that she used to fight with her best friend Cassie. After Cassie succumbs to the darkness, Lia is left alone, with no-one to turn to and nowhere to hide. In her mind, she's huge and disgusting, but in reality, she's slowly wasting away, bit by bit.
The subject of anorexia is a tough one to write about, but it's presented here with the utmost care and precision. It's so scary to think that people actually go through and experience what Lia deals with, and it has opened my eyes to the effects of eating disorders. All the research for this book really paid off, and the writing could be classed as a work of art. It's almost lyrical as you read it, and certain sections could easily pass for poetry. The imagery that Laurie Halse Anderson's words create is both haunting and beautiful, and I found that re-reading certain lines and paragraphs became a necessity, just so I could read the finely crafted words again.
Lia's love for her stepsister, Emma, was perhaps her only real connection to the world of the living, and this relationship was my favourite of the whole story. Emma was like her anchor, and was more influential than any therapist or doctor could ever be. The use of strikethroughs to show Lia's true thoughts and feelings was a powerful way to portray her inner struggle with herself, and it raised the emotional intensity of the book higher than I ever thought it could go.
Chilling and unforgettable, this is a story not to be missed. It deserves a place on every bookshelf, and should be remembered for years to come. ...more info
Gripping, poetic, and realistic WINTERGIRLS is an issue book, even more overtly than SPEAK. (Not to say it doesn't deliver a great story.) Like any issue book, it made me think. In my twisted case, it made me obsessed with what I ate while reading the book. I snack a lot people. Ritz crackers with brie, french bread with honey butter, mint truffle kisses, Girl Scout cookies, chips and salsa, chocolate covered pretzels, cherry yogurt, and who knows what else. And you know what: I'm at a much healthier weight than I've been for most of my life. I'm reading about Lia's struggle to go down to 100, then 95, then 90, then then then and all I can think about is how happy the day I was when I first hit 100 pounds. I felt like a real person instead of a doll.
But Lia doesn't want to feel like a real person. She's a wintergirl, dancing between life and death. She's anorexic and her best friend Cassie was bulimic. But now Cassie's dead and she called Lia thirty-three times before she died, but Lia didn't answer since they were fighting. Those thirty-three calls haunt Lia and pull her farther from redemption.
Lia's narration took me a few chapters to get into, but then I loved the rhythm of it. Lia's voice is as strong as her will and Anderson uses some nice typographic trips to change the weight of certain thoughts. (No pun intended.) The head-trip is offset by Lia's very normal family. Her stepmother Jennifer obviously cares and does her best. When she does make a move against Lia, her reasoning makes sense. On the other side of the coin, Lia obviously cares for her "pleasantly plump" stepsister Emily, who couldn't care less about her appearance and enjoys playing sports badly. She does have trouble explaining to people why her sister was in the hospital. Lia builds her mother up as a bad guy, but I find her a sympathetic character as well.
The only antagonist in the book is internal, which I like. Anderson recognizes how tough it can be to work through your issues even if you live in a supportive environment. Lia knows she's too skinny but she knows she's too big and every time she looks at food she sees the calories just as much as she sees the deliciousness.
My only complaint? I'd love to see more of Elijah, the boy who works at the crappy motel where Cassie died. I fell in love with him on his first appearance. I appreciate Anderson not shoehorning a romance into a book that doesn't need it, but surely we could get more than a few tantalizing glimpses of him.
Anderson's work is somewhat hit-and-miss with me, but WINTERGIRLS is definitely a hit. The prose and characterization are on. You get the impact of anorexia but don't finish the book feeling completely bummed out. You'll enjoy discovering whether and wintergirl can become a real girl. (And if you don't like it, you can stare at the pretty cover. I vote this book most likely to be picked up by fantasy fans on accident.)
Painful, beautiful, unbelievable. Anorexic teenager Lia learns that her former best friend Cassie died alone in a hotel room, after making 33 desperate calls to Lia's cell...which Lia, still hurt over their friendship breakup, never answered. Now, Lia is haunted by Cassie's death, tortured by Cassie's ghost and her own hyperforcused compulsion/obsession to be thin, thinner, the thinnest she can be.
Every bite Lia eats is measured in calories, every meal carefully planned for minimum calorie intake, which are quickly evaporated by fervent exercising. Yes, Lia has been in and out of the clinic to help with her problem, but it hasn't changed her view of herself as a fat stupid girl. And it hasn't helped her tense relationship with her mom, or with her dad's new wife and daughter.
But things are bubbling over, festering in Lia, and she has to decide quickly how she's going to deal with her messed-up life--before it's too late.
I started reading Wintergirls a few days ago, devouring it in several lengthy stretches. I found the story difficult to read in spots--Lia's obvious unreliability as a narrator in terms of her self-perception was genuine, painful, mesmerizing. I wanted to shake her and hug her at the same time and say, "You're killing yourself! Why can't you see that?" It was chilling to watch her plunge headfirst into her skewed reality, to see how desperate she was to lose just another pound, again and again and again.
Even though I felt uncomfortable in Lia's skin as I read Wintergirls, I kept turning the pages. Even though I feared how it would end, I couldn't stop reading. In a way, Lia's compulsion became my own--how skinny COULD she get? Will she overcome this obsession with being thin, or will it overtake her?
This was my first Laurie Halse Anderson book, and it knocked the air out of my lungs. An amazing, sorrowful, hopeful, painful story. Gritty. Real. Edgy. Lyrical. And one that will linger with me for a long time to come. I am very, very eager to pick up more of her stuff--her power as a writer is awe-inspiring....more info
This is not About anorexia Yes, Lia struggles with an eating disorder, but this is not another "problem" YA novel. The "problem" is that Lia has a messy life...tangled family relationships, guilt over opportunities lost, futures that frighten, pasts that seem mythically golden. In other words, Anderson has plunged straight into the heart and mind of a real teen. Usually I cheat and read reviews and the flap copy before I begin a book, but I decided to read this one "cold." The writing was so true and compelling, I had to keep reading and reading and reading...even though I was sitting in the middle of a mall that was about to close. This is NOT a book about anorexia, although that is one of the symptoms of Lia's true problem...learning to forgive herself for not being any of the many "versions" that the others in her life...her parents, stepmother, doctors, therapists, teachers, fellow students, but most of all her former friend Cassie...wish her to be. This is not a self-help book. It's a self-acceptance book. Yes, it is gritty and terrifying in some places. I am an adult, and have never had an eating disorder, but with her first paragraph Anderson yanked be back to my teenage self, and the (real-to-me) terrors that stalked my soul, the self-disgust for not "living up to my potential." I would recommend this to anyone over the age of fourteen...and ESPECIALLY PARENTS who might need a refresher course on just how stressful it is to be 18 or even 14....more info
The Story Siren Reviews: I love Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak is one of my all time favorite novels, so to say I was excited to read Wintergirls was an understatement. I was excited until I realized what Wintergirls was really about: anorexia. Was that something that I wanted to read about. It sounded truly depressing and slightly disturbing. But as hard as it was to read this novel emotionally, I felt like it was even harder to put down physically. Anderson continues to impress my with her beautifully written novels.
I've seen Anderson's writing described as lyrical and I have to say that I fully agree. And Wintergirls in no exception. Anderson's writing is almost hypnotizing, she has a way of explaining a situation thoroughly using as few words as possible. Genius.
And it's so much more than writing, it's the characterization. Lia's character is so rawly displayed it's heartbreaking. I never fully understand the metal effects that an eating disorder can have, I marveled at a part of the text where Lia watches her dad eat.... and how she wishes she could eat like that. Aimlessly, automatic, effortless. For some reason that part really stuck out for me, and it was so simple.
I'm sure this novel will make an impact and be discussed, maybe even more so than Speak. I can't wait to see what LAH has in store next.
Courtesy of Teens Read Too Chilling. Even many days after reading WINTERGIRLS, I still shiver when I think about this book.
Lia has struggled with an eating disorder before. Her parents think that she is getting better, but she is just fooling everyone. When Cassie, who used to be her best friend, dies, Lia spirals out of control again.
She eats less and less and begins seeing Cassie's ghost everywhere.
WINTERGIRLS explores the world of eating disorders with vivid, horrifying detail.
Even though this book was really creepy, it was also spectacular. I had never understood how or why some people began to have eating disorders, and this book gave a spectacular insight into their state of mind.
Compelling and shocking Lia is anorexic. Her disease is a compulsion, something she can't--and doesn't want to--fight. Before, she's always had her best friend Cassie for support. But then Lia was forced into rehab, and now that she is out, Cassie refuses to talk to her anymore, leaving Lia more confused and alone than ever.
And then Cassie dies. Her tragic and rather mysterious death brings up all kinds of unwanted thoughts and feelings that Lia doesn't want to experience. But she has no choice but to face them--Cassie is haunting her, no matter where she goes, reminding Lia of what she didn't do the night of Cassie's death.
Wintergirls is altogether startling, compelling, and in a way, a bit morbid as the spotlight is cast on Lia and how she lives her day-to-day life with her anorexia. Anderson's writing is stark and even lyrical as she effortlessly characterizes Lia into someone that the reader can't help but pity, but loathes to do so at the same time. Lia herself is a hypnotizing narrator: her blunt honesty draws you near, only to twist your heart as she delves deeper into the finer points of her disease and reveals her secret plots to become thin, which, in Anderson's style, manages not to seem completely crazy and twisted, and will allow readers to identify with Lia on some levels. Besides being about anorexia, the novel also has much to do with family, and how they have influenced who Lia has become. The strained relationships and the uncertainties that come with a family that doesn't get along very well are intriguing and support Lia's behavior and character perfectly, making Lia an even more authentic character. Wintergirls is one of those novels that, once started, cannot be set aside easily, and will drive readers to discover Lia's fate. Wintergirls is all at once evocative, exquisite, and painful, and has the power to engulf readers with waves of thought and emotion....more info