Wintergirls — Laurie Halse Anderson

Viking Juvenile, 2009.

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Lia’s best friend, Cassie was recently found dead in a motel room, from her bulimia. She called Lia 38 times on the night she died. Lia never answered. She is now haunted by visions of her best friend. Lia is also on the same path with anorexia and she struggles to overcome her guilt and find her will to live.

Review: Beautifully written and artistically done, Wintergirls is moving novel about Lia, a teenage girl with anorexia who has been hospitalized before. At the beginning of the novel, the reader finds out Lia’s best friend, Cassie, died in a motel room alone. Lia’s guilt over not being there follows her throughout the novel. You can see her internal struggle about wanting to live and her understanding that Cassie’s eating disorder killed her. She still cannot break free of the mentality of needing to be “the skinniest girl”.

Anderson uses the strike through to exemplify Lia’s thought process and demonstrate the underlying problems of her disease. By striking through her mom and putting mom, you can see how her brain works. It also shows her relationship with food. Striking out the numbers and constantly referring to bananas as (71), the calories in them gives greater insight to how anorexia works in the mind more so than making a sentence for each food item she eats.

While I hesitate to compare it to Anderson’s Speak, I think Wintergirls is just as moving and profound and once again Anderson plays with the text to create a compelling narrative that looks deeper into a teenage girl’s psyche. Wintergirls is great for readers who enjoyed Speak. The only reservation I have about recommending this book is that it could be a trigger novel for someone who has recovered from an eating disorder.

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