Haunting. That’s the only word I can come up with for Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Just haunting.
Lia and Cassie have been best friends since elementary school, fast friends after their families moved in across the street from each other. But when Cassie comes home from summer camp with a new-found hobby–binging and purging with laxatives and throwing up–Lia follows suit with her own eating disorder. They feed of each other’s need to be the skinniest and by the time Cassie dies from her disease, Lia’s in too deep with her anorexia to get out.
Wintergirls is a peek into the mind of anorexia. It’s messy and confusing and written in a style that shows just how horrible it is to be trapped in a body that you are trying to kill. As a reader, you can’t turn away as Lia makes one bad decision after another. You want to hate her, but the glimpse we get inside her mind helps us sympathize too.
As Lia tries to come to terms with Cassie’s death, she is nearing her own. Lia’s family and friends are trying–and failing–to help her and until Lia realizes just how little of her is left, she can’t be helped anyway. Will she survive? Can she finally get the help she needs? Is she worth saving? All questions the reader struggles with as the book nears the end.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson is rough. Just like one of her other books (Speak) she confronts some harsh realities that teens (and adults) are living with and in doing so, let’s us talk to kids about them. Because these things are less powerful and destructive when we bring them out of the darkness and into the light. If you’re invested in a girl’s life in anyway, as a parent, mentor, teacher, friend, relative, I think this book would be a great conversation starter and might be more helpful than some non-fiction books on the same topic. Because you can imagine these girls living next door to you or passing them in the mall. And that is what makes this book so important.
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.