Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Source: Purchased paperback
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
Caution: May contain spoilers
“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.
~synopsis from Goodreads
Three words: powerful and raw.
Allow me to expand on this. When I bought this book, my initial thoughts were that it would be a good read. Since Speak is such an amazing book, how can I expect anything less by Laurie Halse Anderson? I didn’t expect it to reach the amazingness of Speak. But man, I was wrong. So wrong. Wintergirls pulled through and, as much as I have a special place for what Speak stands for, I believe I loved it equally as much.
I need to be honest. I don’t understand the desire to be skinny to the point of anorexia and bulimia and starving oneself (I understand wanting to be skinny in general, but not to the extreme). It’s not something I’ve dealt with, so I feared I wouldn’t be able to relate or care for a character that has that view of themselves. And I admit, listening to Lia speak of her weight the way she did, I sometimes wanted to punch her back to reality. BUT. I kept in mind the fact that when someone has body dysmorphic disorder, they can’t view themselves in any way except bigger than they really are. Hence the constant need to lose weight. I began to be pulled into Lia’s world of misconstrued views on her appearance. I could see the imperfections from her eyes. I could feel the illusions playing tricks on my mind.
The anorexia wasn’t enough though. Lia also cut. Which is another thing I cannot relate to. With good reason because when she cut, I felt sick to my stomach and I wanted to escape and get out of her head. But I couldn’t put the book down. I had to keep reading. The thought of the cutting caused me to have that achy feeling spread through my body. I couldn’t stop imagining the times I’ve gotten cut on something, that initial feeling just kept repeating. It was so disturbing and scary to see how far people go to feel something.
Lia’s journey is one that takes on more than just the anorexia and the cutting. Her best friend Cassie is dead. The one who was just as obsessive about staying skinny. The one who half cheered her on and half wanted to be the skinniest. She can’t stop thinking about Cassie. She can’t stop seeing her everywhere she goes. Her family is trying to save her, but Lia doesn’t want to be saved. She wants to be thinner. She doesn’t want to get to the weight the doctors tell her is healthy. She wants to be less than the skinny she already is. Over 100 pounds is not what she wants. She wants 95. She wants 85. But where will it end?
I was overcome with many emotions throughout this book. Writing out this review was like reliving the emotions all over again. Yes, I don’t have the desire to be extremely skinny. Yes, I don’t have the desire to cut myself in an attempt to feel. But I have come to understand more about those who have those desires through the words Laurie Halse Anderson has penned in this novel. Wintergirls is one of those books that will not go away, just like Speak. Lia will stay with you a long time.
Exceptional: Stay up until at least 1 AM