Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Rating: PG-13; 5 stars
Summary: Lia is a wintergirl. Frozen in a world of thin is in, she is like the walking dead. Only now, she doesn't have her friend Cassie to struggle with her. Cassie died, alone, in a motel room. Before her death, she called Lia thirty-three times. Now, Lia has to fight her body's need for food on her own, as well as dealing with the torment of losing her best friend and parents who don't have time to care. But as long as Lia keeps getting thinner and thinner, she is in control. She is winning.
Opinions: This book is scary. I'm not talking scary like Steven King, or scary like Saw. I'm talking so scary because you know it's real. You know that this is something that thousands, if not millions, of people go through. When I started reading this book, I read for over an hour and a half straight without talking, noise-canceling headphones on. I don't recommend this. When I finally returned to the real world, I felt incredibly alienated. Anderson doesn't tiptoe around putting the reader in the story. From the very beginning, you are in Lia's world.
I have read very few books that drew me in as much as this one. When I was reading, I was Lia. I'm nowhere near anorexic, but that didn't matter. I didn't judge Lia; I was Lia. Anderson wrote this brilliantly and in such a way that I had no trouble believing in Lia or her world. I would like to think that people don't think the way Lia and Cassie do, but I know that's not the case.
When I was a sophomore in high school (God, that was three years ago!), I read Speak in my English class. It was assigned on the first day of class, and we had to read like the first chapter. I read the entire thing in one sitting. Laurie Halse Anderson is known for writing exceptional books about difficult issues. I found Wintergirls to be even more stunning than Speak. Sure, I didn't read Wintergirls all in one go, but I'm very glad I didn't. I was incredibly alienated after just an hour and a half; I hate to think of how out of it I would have been had I read the whole thing in one go.
I rated this book PG-13 because of violence and language. Also, it ought to be known that this book could potentially be triggering to someone who struggles with an eating disorder; after every food in the book, Lia lists how many calories are in it. I imagine that this could trigger some people. I originally rated this book 4 ½ stars, simply because it's so emotionally heavy. However, as I wrote this review, I realized that the heaviness is what makes it such a memorable book, and that it is definitely 5 star material. This is a raw, powerful example of exactly what realistic characters and beautiful writing can do when put together. I cried at the end of this book. And yes, I cry a lot when I read, but that's not the point. I cried because I felt the end events as Lia did.
Honestly, I can't say enough by this book. I'm still stunned by the places it took me emotionally. It was certainly a very different book from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which is the book I read just before Wintergirls. I wouldn't call Wintergirls an enjoyable book, simply on account of the subject matter, but I would definitely say that it is very necessary book. I feel very different for having read it. Not necessarily better, but different.
Also, as an FYI, I'm a bit backed up on posting for now, so things aren't going to be posted in the order I've read them. And I'm making it a summer goal to post once a week, so here's to lots of reviews!