by Laurie Halse Anderson
Summary: The New York Times bestselling story of a friendship frozen between life and death Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy
Wintergirls was a powerful novel. The words I want to use are: awful, terrible, horrible, haunting… but I don’t mean that the book was bad at all. It was good. The book was about anorexia. The narrator was the anorexic. It was absolutely awful to be stuck in Lia’s head. It was insane. But the novel couldn’t be written in any other way and be quite so powerful.
I don’t understand eating disorders in the sense that I don’t know what it would be like to want to control food, count calories, or not see yourself correctly. I’ve read some things and seen some interviews and I think it’s more of a mental disease than people realize. Anorexics struggle for control and their way of creating a more manageable world is to control their intake of food. It’s awful. I think there’s a lot of misconception that it’s just about being thin. For some, maybe that’s where it starts, but Lia’s story is one I’ve seen before in interviews where it just becomes a lifestyle based on control and not so much image. Lia counted the calories of everything. She counted her bites. She withdrew from everything. She lied to her family. She felt like a nothing. It was maddening. She lost energy and couldn’t even drive. I just wanted to scream at her to eat something.
But from the bit of information I’ve learned about anorexia, I felt that the book was spot on in portraying the mind of an anorexic. I believed Lia. She struggled for control, she waged her own battle against food and called it strength. She felt unworthy of any of her pounds, but she wasn’t quite falling for the therapy that she was introduced to, which I think is kind of normal for teens who scoff at the whole feel good approach. But something had to give. There has to be a point where therapy reaches a patient. She didn’t feel like she could trust anyone or tell anyone the truth until things spiraled out of control.
The book makes you shiver with the realization that people actually think that way and go through those things. Lia said she couldn’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to just eat something because all of her energy went into it. I can’t imagine food being that big of an ordeal. Things like hot chocolate made her go into a meltdown about calories and I don’t even THINK about the liquids I drink and how they have calories.
While Wintergirls was powerful, it was disturbing. It sheds a lot of light on anorexia, but I have no idea what it would be like to someone who was suffering from an eating disorder. I’d like to think it would help being able to connect to a character and watch her figure it all out. Maybe they could learn from Lia’s mistakes. Knowing the success of Speak, I would hope that Wintergirls has touched someone somewhere and helped. But for the average reader like myself, if you’re just looking for an interesting book that deals with issues, Lia’s story was haunting and moving. I definitely recommend it if you can deal with being inside the mind of a broken person. For some readers, it might just be too much.