Review Blog

Mar 09 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

cover image

Speak, 2010. ISBN 9780142415573.
(Ages 14+) Chosen by the American Library Association as one of their 2010 Best books for young adults, Wintergirls is an unflinching and very frightening look at eating disorders. Lia is haunted by the death from bulimia of her best friend Cassie who had sent her 33 messages before she died. She is consumed with guilt because she didn't answer the phone and relives some of the moments that she has shared with Cassie as well as the struggle that she has with anorexia nervosa.
Anderson has written about a difficult subject in a confronting and honest way. She describes Lia's descent into the depths of her disorder, her lies and her feelings about her parents, stepmother and stepsister . Everyone who has ever dieted will be familiar with the counting of calories : a muffin (410), an orange (75); and the hard grind of a treadmill to wear off even more calories. Lia takes dieting to a new high, always striving to lose more weight and even cutting herself to forget the shadows that surround her. It is a frightening portrayal of an intelligent young woman who has been unable to cope since the death of her grandmother and her parents' divorce.
Lia is offered all sorts of help: she is hospitalised; she visits a psychiatrist; her mother is prepared to sell her stocks and her father to get a second mortgage to pay for her medical expenses. However, Cassie's ghost seems to sit on her shoulder, encouraging her to lose weight. It is not until she reaches the depths that she confronts the idea of staying alive.
This is a compulsive, honest and disturbing book.
Pat Pledger

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