Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wintergirls is devastating and amazingly written. It's about an anorexic girl (Lia) who received thirty-three calls (all of which she ignored) from her estranged best friend (Cassie)on the day she died. She's battling many inner demons, and trying to cope with seemingly insane family. This novel is disturbing and intense and is definitely not the sort of thing you pick up looking for a fun read - it's not the sort of book you can really enjoy, but it's so wonderfully written (everything relates back to food, and the line between reality and Lia's mind often seems blurred) and it's so chilling and scary you can hardly bear to put it down. I've read a few books where an eating disorder was a central theme (all fiction, most YA) and this is the best. I don't know whether it's the most realistic, but it's genuinely frightening and it seems so, so real. You hate Lia, but at the same time you just want her to get better. The book is particularly painful to read near the end - and I'd say, hey, the character of Elijah seemed unnecessary and what is up with him? And the entire ending seemed drawn out and so, so painful? But I think these may have been intentional things the author did.

I think if you don't like books that are dark and brutal and a bit too raw, then maybe this isn't the book for you. But at the same time, you know, I think it's such a startling and believable portrayal of an eating disorder consuming someone's entire life, and I think teenagers would benefit from reading it. I'm very torn over it - did I love it, or did I hate it? Do I think other people should read it because it's well-written or avoid it because it's so brutal? I think it's a beautiful novel and at the same time it's also very confronting. I think you should read reviews, and figure out whether it's a novel for you. I think it's something teenage girls should definitely read. It's brilliant and disturbing and it stayed with me a long time after reading.

I think Laurie Halse Anderson is a genius, by the way. You should read Speak, too, if you haven't already. She writes about things that are important but so difficult. And she does it amazingly well.
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