Author: 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. (Published summary)
This was an odd read. I didn’t like it. Not really. It’s painful, and jarring, and even confusing. It’s supposed to be. Told in the first person, Wintergirls is one teenager’s story of fighting a life-threatening eating disorder, and perhaps mental illness. The world view she drags us into is unbalanced and spiraling downward.
The story is well-written. I found it compelling, and Lia a sympathetic character, even when she admits to making the wrong choices. The writing style felt a little gimmicky at first, but Anderson has a nice turn of phrase that reaches up into beauty in some passages, and it wasn’t hard to get used to. Four stars for the sheer writing power.
Sexual content: Boys tease a girl about needing her first bra. Girl recounts how her parents got married because her mother was pregnant, saying “They were random gods who mated by a wine-dark sea.” Character says, “I knew it! You’ve fallen in love with me. You want to have my babies.”
Language: 11 derogatory terms, 8 d***, 7 scatological terms, 2 hell
Violence: One car-wreck. A middle school kid beats up another kid for teasing her. Character breaks her arm.
Other problems: Deals very directly and graphically with the eating disorder anorexia.