Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I won this book (along with 6 others) from A.M. Supinger's short story contest. (Thanks, A.M.!) I've heard rave reviews of this book before so I was excited to read it.

Blurb from Goodreads:

“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 were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

About the Author:

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. You can follow her on Twitter, or find her blog here.

The Book: YA Contemporary

I have to admit I was surprised at first by the stylistic construction the author employed to emphasize the protagonist's state of mind. By page three, I was fine. I actually think it renders the book a feeling of being not altogether there...a chopped up perception, a disoriented reflection of Lia's mental being. Which is what our protagonist, Lia, is: a hollow shell of a teenage girl who starves herself to fill up the void inside her. She's not altogether there. Her body image is bloatedly skewed, and her relationship with her family is so messed up she feels like a rag doll being passed from one person to the next.

When her ex-bestfriend Cassie dies in a motel room alone, Lia's downward spiral becomes inevitable. Even though her mom, a heart transplant surgeon always too busy for her, and her dad and his new wife/stepmom, genuinely wants Lia to get better, Lia continues to deceive them by sewing quarters in her weighing robe and appearing to be the perfect, calm daughter as the pounds melt off of her. Lia also begins to see Cassie haunting her, waiting for her to die so they can be together again.

Ms. Anderson's lyrical prose reflects Lia's morbid thoughts. I thought it was really well done and not over the top at all. It is haunting and sad and beautiful at once. It is an insider's peek at what could possibly go through an anorexic person's head. I've read other reviews where someone complained the protagonist was too egoistic to be likable. Too selfish, too self-absorbed. But that's why the author nailed it--people who suffer from such disorders have a distorted sense of reality.

Very well written for a sensitive subject. I give the author a big kudos for tackling such a painful and complex character, for letting us dive into the ugly truth of anorexia and bulimia, and for opening doors to others who may be going through these same experiences. Highly recommended.


Sarah Pearson said...

A very tough subject to tackle. It's good to hear that she seems to have done it justice.

i'm erin. said...

This book is so haunting! Good review. it's harder for me to stomach topics like this, but I think it's good to have it out there.

Mandie Baxter said...

I have this book and can't wait to read it! I've read Twisted and Speak by her as well and loved them. Twisted is such a great male POV. Great review and congrats on the win!

Rachna Chhabria said...

This book sounds like it will come as an eye opener to people who want to kill themselves by eating less and less, all for the sake of getting that desired stick-thin figure.

Anita Grace Howard said...

I've always been a fan of her prose. This one needs to go on my TBR pile. Thanks for the lovely review, sparkle queen!

Bethany C. said...

Wow--Laurie tackled a difficult subject, and based on your sparkly review, did a great job of it. Like Anita, this is going on my TBR list :)

J. A. Bennett said...

That sounds amazing! I'll have to grab a copy :)

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful review. I'll be the next in line. -kelly

Jenny Phresh said...

I love the excerpt from this book--beautiful writing! Thanks for sharing this review. I want to check it out.

BTW I miss you and the #goatposse! I've been in a weird space (wish I could say b/c of writing) but I am coming back, soon, I swear. xo!

Angela V. Cook said...

This sounds really good! I needs to get this on my TBR list also!! Though I'm a little worried I might not like the style of writing (if it is the way you say it is) :-/ I'm funny about stuff like that. Then again, if you were able to get used to it, maybe I can too ;o) I guess I won't know until I try it!

Elizabeth said...

I love the notebook design.....so cool.

...................taking a look around.




Peggy Eddleman said...

Great review! I know I couldn't ever tackle such a painful and complex thing. It always amazes me when authors do it well. And congrats on winning it!

A.M.Supinger said...

I'm glad you liked it :) It's a tough topic and she handled it with her usual grace, but I'm so glad it's not sitting on my shelf anymore. Every time I see that book I think about how many girls suffer with similar problems, and it breaks my heart.

Anonymous said...

I love Halse Anderson, but have been reluctant to pick up this book despite the kudos it continues to get.

I'm not sure why, as everytime I read another review of it, I'm compelled to read it. Yet when I get to the book store and actually hold it in my hand, I struggle.

Maybe someday I'll have the guts to read it.

Thanks for the honest review.

Kimberly Krey said...

You've definitely got my interest on this one. I may have to check it out myself. As always, great post, my dear! :)

Loraine said...

i like your review! Here's mine: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/06/wintergirls-by-laurie-halse-anderson.html Have a nice day! :)

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