Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson - an intense novel about struggles with anorexia

“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. But by senior year, they have drifted apart and barely speak. One night, Cassie tries calling Lia thirty-three times on her cell, and Lia ignores it. The next day, Cassie is found dead, alone in a motel room.
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Viking Juvenile, 2009.
audiobook published by Brilliance Audio.
ages 14 and up
Lia is 18, and has anorexia - an eating disorder where she starves herself in a quest to lose weight, to be the skinniest girl at her school. She's been committed to an inpatient clinic twice already. And now, Cassie is dead. Lia starts spinning out of control, being sucked down the vortex of her paranoia, her dreams, her anorexia. It's an agonizing journey of incredible pain as Lia struggles on the border between life and death.

Wintergirls is told through the first person perspective, in an almost poetic stream of conscious voice. This narrative acutely shows what Lia goes through, how she battles for control, how her deep depression distorts her logic and her brain chemistry. Please be aware. It details her anorexia, her friend Cassie's bulimia, her cutting herself, and Lia’s attempted suicide. I think this is an important book for adolescent girls - it validates what too many are struggling with or see their friends struggling with. But I do worry that it places ideas in girls' heads, shows them the way. Perhaps some will say that there are so many other ways girls discover this awful route - that this book won't be what's introducing them to these horrors. But you need to be aware of this before recommending it – it has to be for the right kid at the right time.

Find Wintergirls at your local independent bookstore. Also check out the audio version, published by Brilliance Audio.

Laurie Halse Anderson will be touring the country to promote this moving book. She's in the San Francisco this weekend, March 22- 23:

Sunday, March 22:
3pm, Not Your Mother's Book Club (buy tickets to this event)
6pm, Kepler's, Menlo Park

Monday, March 23:
7pm, Copperfields, Petuluma

1 comment:

  1. I keep reading about this book, not sure if I will read it or not. I've read my share of anorexia books and after a while they blend together--though from what I hear of L.H.A. hers is probably a good one to read.