August 6, 2009

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

The so called wintergirls Lia and Cassie have been best friends since they were young. Now at age 18 they are no longer friends, driven apart by their own eating disorders. Lia is anorexic and down to a scary 98 pounds. Cassie sees Lia getting thinner by the day and gets herself deeper into trouble with her bulimia. After a nine-month estrangement Cassie finally hits rock bottom and calls Lia for help but Lia doesn’t pick up the phone and her friend dies all alone in a run down motel.

Now racked with guilt Lia is haunted by images of Cassie everywhere she goes. Cassie’s ghost is taunting her endlessly about her weight. On top of that Lia is having trouble dealing with her divorced parents. Her mother is controlling and her father doesn’t seem to care but as much as they each try to help, Lia is sliding further into trouble with her lies. Will everyone realize the depth of her sickness before she does permanent damage to both herself and her little sister?

Wintergirls was a very emotional read. It’s shockingly realistic and Anderson makes it easy to visualize what might go through the minds of those suffering from eating disorders. It made me take a good look at how easily our society’s expectations might make a situation with a troubled teen worse.

I listened to this one as opposed to reading it but from snippets and excerpts I’ve seen online Anderson had a really unique writing style with Wintergirls that doesn’t fully come across in the audio. Here’s a link from Amazon about it. In the print version she uses strike outs, different fonts and italics to get a clearer picture of Lia’s state of mind. The most striking thing that did come across in audio is Lia’s calorie counting. Every time she mentions food she whispers how many calories that particular food is and each whisper gave me chills.

I’ve never had anyone close to me facing any of the issues in the book so I don’t know if this would hurt or help a struggling eater but I highly recommend it for YA readers.

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kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review!
I've never read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I would really like to read either this one or Speak. I've heard really good things about them! Glad to see you "enjoyed" this book - a strong emotional read is good, from time to time.

bermudaonion said...

I won the book a while ago and haven't made time to read it yet. I keep reading wonderful reviews, like yours, so I'm really anxious to get to it.

Vanessa said...

This was a truly unique read for me. It made me understand my friends who have struggled with eating disorders and cutting in a way I never did before. And it absolutely terrified me as a parent of daughters.

I don't think it would come across the same way in audio.

Heidi V said...

My daughter has a friend who is dealing with an eating disorder, I'll be picking this up for her maybe it'll give her some insight on what her friend is dealing with.

Thank you kindly for the review!