Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all-hope.

We live in an era obsessed with body shape, size, and beauty. We live in a world of constant scrutiny from media outlets, peers, and most importantly, ourselves. Ever corner you turn, a magazine cover or billboard is plastered with a half naked girl the size of a toothpick. When did this become the norm, the standard? Products are being shoved down our throats that claim to help us look younger, skinnier, fitter, more tanned, more perfect. What’s wrong with us just the way we are?

Meet Lia. I’d love to tell you she’s your average, run of the mill teenager, but I’d be stretching the truth a little there. Lia suffers from a serious eating disorder, but don’t tell her that, because she’ll vehemently disagree with you. She’s already been to rehab twice, but according to Lia, she’s just fine. But if she’s just fine, why does she feel like she needs to hide her weird eating (or non-eating) habits from her family?

Then her best friend and partner in all things ‘thin’ dies one night under suspicious circumstances in a hotel room. Although the police are investigating all avenues, Lia has a pretty good idea about what happened to her: Cassie’s body simply shut down. Instead of setting an example for Lia, Cassie’s death only adds more fuel to her smoldering fire, and Lia’s eating habits (or lack thereof) take a deathly turn for the worse.

She’s not eating. She’s down to 98 pounds, but its not enough. All she sees when she looks in the mirror, all she feels when she runs her fingers over her skin is fat fat fat fat fat. She starts working out in the middle of the night when her family is asleep, creating ridiculous calorie deficits. She cuts herself. She fights with her family about her eating habits, but mainly, she fights with herself.

Every. Single. Moment. Of. Every. Single. Day.

Lia’s story is completely and absolutely unputdownable, and a must read for women and teenagers everywhere who have ever struggled with, or contemplated an eating disorder. Now I understand why Laurie Halse Anderson is an award winning author. Not only does she create shining characters with strong, loud voices, but she writes from the heart –  her blood, sweat, and tears are all over the pages of this novel.

Lia’s internal struggle with food, her inability to love herself, and the overtly warped reflection that she sees when she looks in the mirror is something many women can relate to. Her lack of control and the lengths she goes to in order to achieve a state of what she considers perfection is a heart wrenching, sobering lesson.

Wintergirls doesn’t point fingers, doesn’t lay blame. It doesn’t deal with the why so much as the what is. For people that simply don’t understand the grasp eating disorders have over their victims, Wintergirls is a must-read for you. For those of you who are currently struggling with issues of self-esteem and have a delicate relationship with food and your body, Wintergirls is a must-read for you.  For family and friends of victims of eating disorders, Wintergirls will help you understand your loved ones motivations a little better. Absolutely everyone can learn something from this book.

A powerful story that should be shouted from the rooftops. Laurie Halse Anderson, I heart you for telling it so honestly.

There’s no sugar coating on this one, folks. Kleenex may be required.

Publication date: 2009

Pages: 278


Teaser Quote: If I got down to 070.00 I’d want to be 065.00. If I weighed 010.00 I wouldn’t be happy till I got down to 005.00. The only number that would ever be enough is 0. Zero pounds, zero life, size zero, double zero, zero point. Zero in tennis is love. I finally get it.

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