Book Reviews

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

My edition: Kindle owned
Pages: 283
Standalone
Genre: Mental Illness,
Publish: March 19,2009
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:

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 feeling guilty 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. 

Review:

Fair warning there will be spoilers!

This is my second Anderson book. Both books have been on controversial subjects. But they are both subjects that need to be talked about more in schools. Or by the parents.

I pour too much cereal (150) in the bowl, splash on the two-percent milk (125).

Wintergirls is about Lia who is anorexic. She won’t eat and she knows the calories of every food. She used to be friends with a girl named Cassie who had been dealing with bulimia. After Lia is put into the hospital for the second time, Cassie then drops her as a friend ignores her. Until a Saturday night/Sunday morning when she called Lia 33 times. Lia never picked up. Then she finds out on Monday morning Cassie was found dead in a motel room.

Throughout the book, we get flashbacks, weird descriptions of the world around Lia, and struck-out sentences that the font was bigger than the rest which are a few things that I wasn’t a fan. Laurie does an amazing job of describing someone going through the illness. Lia is obsessive with her weight. She plans out that to appease her father and stepmother she will only eat dinner with them.

Spiders hatch and crawl out of my belly button, hairy little tar beads with ballerina feet. They swarm, spinning a silk veil, one hundred thousand spider thoughts woven together until they wrap me up in a cozy shroud.

The girl reflected back from the window in front of me has poinsettias growing out of her belly and head. She’s the shape of a breakfast-link sausage standing on broom-stick legs, her arms made from twigs, her face blurred with an eraser. I know that it is me, but it’s not me, not really. I don’t know what I look like. I can’t remember how to look.

The weird descriptions I don’t know if that is due to her illness and her body not getting the sustaining that it needs much like her body temperature or if she just sees the world weird. Not only is Lia dealing with anorexia but she is dealing with the guilt of not answering her friend’s calls. She keeps count from 1-33. She also repeats over in her head “body found in motel room, alone”, “she called me” and she feels like it’s her fault Cassie died.

I don’t like Lia. While yes she is dealing with a mental illness, she is kind of a crap character. Why? In the flashbacks we see her as an enabler for Cassie’s illness. She would change in the same changing rooms at the mall to show off her body to make Cassie feel bad. She won’t talk to her mother and calls her mother Dr. Marrigan. Lia doesn’t want to be helped. She doesn’t listen to her parents or talk to her therapist. She is a classic case of a person not wanting help. When Elijah calls and says he needs to talk to her, she shows up and proceeds to give him a fake name. The few times they are together she doesn’t tell him the truth of her real name. When he does find out her real name he just wants to go home and be left alone and she finds that he’s acting weird. The other fact of her I don’t like is she gets on blogs of other girls dealing with this illness to help enable her to “stay strong”. Cassie’s mom wants to talk to her but Lia ignores her. Even when she begs Lia to call her back.

I see that her parents are concerned. The mother and stepmother don’t buy that she is fine. The dad I think was in denial sometimes. I can understand where the parents are coming from. They want to make sure their daughter is safe and is eating right. They even have her in therapy and sent her to a clinic twice to help her. Unfortunately, Lia is (as I stated) the classic case of a person not wanting to be helped. That is until it’s almost too late.

It took me a while to get through this. I don’t know if it’s because I love food that I couldn’t see her side of reality. I connected more with the parents. I can’t tell if it’s because I am a mom-to-be or because I’m 28 far from the teenage mind set. While I don’t like Lia, I do feel for her and for anyone who is going through anything like this. I pray that if you, dear reader are like this, that you will find the help you need and that you accept it.