Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review - Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“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.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

It's been a couple of months since I wrote up a review. And a couple of months since I read this Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's not a novel that's easy to review to be honest. I've read Fever 1793 and Speak by Anderson and while Speak was by no means a happy story to read, Melinda's ordeal was one that I was, unfortunately, familiar with... so it made it easier.

Lia and Cassie have eating disorders. But we don't see much of Cassie at all in the story. At least not in a conventional way. She's more... haunting... than anything else. She sort of manifests as one of Lia's demons.

The writing in this book is definitely different. Not told in solid story form but mainly through the jumbled thoughts of the main character. And I can tell you, it was so frustrating to read. So frustrating that I KNEW all this girl needed to do was eat... and so frustrating that she REFUSED even though she knew that was what she needed, too.

But eating disorders are never that easy. You can't just look at someone with bulimia and tell them to stop throwing up their food. You can't look at someone with anorexia and say "Here, have a sandwich," and expect everything to get better. It's a battle. And not a battle between you and that person, but a battle between that person and whatever demons are waging battle in their heads. Clearly Lia had many. And it was sad.

I'd seen a movie like this once. Long ago and far away. Best friends become anorexic... they literally compete to see who can eat the least and get the skinniest and then... one of them dies. The other is left with the guilt on top of the disease and her family's insistence that she seek treatment and "get better".

Lia has a family who knows what she's doing... in a way. They know she has a problem. And they believe they're monitoring it correctly. But Lia lies and manipulates her way in to "seeming" normal. The anger and irritation at seeing her lie conflicts with the sadness and the heartache of "watching" her waste away...

It's a hard book to read.

If you've read any of Anderson's other novels... I'd suggest giving this one a go. I'd probably recommend it for highschool and up because unfortunately, I know how easy it is for younger kids to read or see something like this book and "identify" with it to the point where they think they're experiencing the same issues... again, something I'm familiar with personally, sadly. So... less easily influenced minds are probably better suited for this particular type of story.


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