February 14, 2009

Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia is very good at keeping secrets. Yes, everyone knows that her ex-best friend Cassie was found dead in a motel room, but no one knows that she called Lia 33 times that same night. Yes her parents know that Lia is anorexic and weigh her each week to make sure she stays at 107, but they don't know that she has sewn rock in the pockets of her bathrobe to hide the fact that she is below 100 lbs. And her parents also know that she is going to counseling, but they don't know that she is still cutting herself with razors on the hidden areas of her body.

Lia has a complicated life, and the reader feels the pain of this. She has to count calories to reach her personal goal weight. Right now, it's 99 lbs. Her parents all seem to care, but it's hard for Lia to feel they really do. Her mother is a doctor that gives more heart to her patients than her own daughter. And Dad is a typical workaholic father, just glowing in his personal success. And the complication continues: a man calls her house to tell her he has a message from Cassie. Lia isn't sure she wants to hear it. Now she keeps seeing Cassie at night in the dark. What will it take to get Lia to change her ways? And can she get relief from being haunted by Cassie?

Laurie Halse Anderson has written another fine young adult novel. Like Speak, it features a female protagonist that cannot tell anyone what is really wrong with her.
Unlike Melinda, though, Lia has people that genuinely seem to care for her. I wanted to scream at this girl because she couldn't see how screwed up she was, and when she did notice this, she didn't seem too keen to get help. It is difficult to read the passages where she is purposefully starving her body. We can see she is getting weaker.

The writing is done in a diary style. We are reading Lia's personal thoughts. Sometimes she has a thought and crosses it out, and we can see what she crossed out. Sometimes we are not reading sentences like when Lia is trying to exert her will on her body: Must. Not. Eat.

I have always been interested in eating disorder books. It is fascinating. I have always enjoyed eating and find it difficult to understand someone that would deny themselves the pleasure of food, which is a gift from God. If this topic interests you, I also recommend The Best Little Girl in the World by Levenkron, in which the family must have a sledgehammer taken to its head before they notice their daughter has a problem, and Perfect: A Novel by Natasha Friend, which combines bulimia with a sense of humor.

2 comments:

Dr. Deb said...

This sounds like a very good book. Gonna order it from amazon. I just got Dewey the Library cat book, which I am afraid to read. Like Marley and Me, I already know the ending.

Dr. Deb said...

This sounds like a very good book. Gonna order it from amazon. I just got Dewey the Library cat book, which I am afraid to read. Like Marley and Me, I already know the ending.