Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Cassie and Lia 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 stepmother 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.
I recently realized that (most) every time I finish a book I think "this is the best book I've ever read!" However, this can't be true of every book I read. Regardless, I think that this is one of the best books that I have read this year. Laurie Halse Anderson has such an incredible ability to write gut-wrenching stories about characters who are broken. Lia is so sad, and your heart breaks for her more page by page. Her family is messed up, her best friends dumped her and then died, and she is starving herself to death. There is a beautiful relationship between Lia and her stepsister Emma. Emma is the person that make Lia want to be whole and healthy, but her journey is not easy. The story follows Lia as she goes through the weeks after Cassie's death.
There are many things that I love about this story. There are entire lines of crossed out thoughts. I think that it is a beautiful way to see the difference between what Lia thinks/feels and what she is supposed to think/feel. This is a common theme with most people, you have thoughts or feelings that are vastly different from what you actually express. However, Lia does this to the extreme. Another aspect that I thought was especially eye-opening was the fact that every bit of food Lia eats has the calorie count beside it in parenthesis. For example “half a slice of bread (38) + quarter tablespoon butter (25) = 63.” This helps emphasize Lia’s downward spiral.

This really was a wonderful book. Laurie Halse Anderson has an ability to suck you into the story and want to fix the broken and bruised characters in her book. You don’t feel pity for the characters though, at least I didn’t. Instead I felt a deep sorrow that anyone would ever deal with the things that Lia deals with in the book. I would recommend this book for any teen. The story will appeal to any age group and even though the main character is a female, I think that many males would benefit from reading this book as well as females. Bottom-line? This is a book about an especially sensitive topic (eating disorders) that doesn’t glorify them or make the character seem like someone who is completely unrealistic. I could relate to Lia, and so can most people. A fantastic story by an award winning author, and it was so much more than I expected.


Anonymous said...

Excellent review! I loved this novel!