Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

This was my first Laurie Halse Anderson book. Right off the bat I knew I would going to be slightly uncomfortable because of the subject matter of eating disorders and I was. It was really hard to read but I definitely was engaged, wanting to know what was going to happen to Lia, even though I didn't necessarily like her character. I think my favorite parts of the book were Lia being with her stepsister Emma, seeing how much she wanted to take care of her and be a role model.

Anderson's writing style was one I had never experienced before, it was very haunting and at times all the descriptions made me a little bit unfocused. I did like how Anderson crossed out a lot of words, that was an interesting technique that really showed Lia's internal struggle.

This was a really hard book to read and to like. But then again, eating disorders aren't something to like. It was very hard to watch Lia kill herself, to go from telling herself no I can't eat this to oh but I really want it. I just wanted to strap her down and make her eat. I don't think I've known anyone personally that deals with a severe eating disorder but I could definitely see through this book how much of an internal struggle it is and how heartbreaking it is to not be able to help yourself or even let anyone else help you.

I found the ending to be a bit rushed, I could have used a bit more. Because of how hard it was for me to read I can't say I really liked the book but I'm definitely glad I read it, it was very engaging and powerful. I look forward to reading some of the author's other books that will hopefully be easier for me to digest.

Wintergirls is released today!

3/5 Stars
ARC received from publisher

Wintergirls also has a really powerful trailer, check it out!


  1. All right. Okay. I will confess this: I've always had difficulty with Anderson's writing style. It does seem rushed, a bit. Thanks for your interesting, honest review.

  2. I totally know what you mean about it being an uncomfortable read. Like watching a train wreck...

  3. I'm an Anderson newbie of sorts- I've only read Fever 1793 for a Children's Lit class but that's all the Anderson I've had. Wintergirls will be the second book, unless I get to Speak first which I might since that's a library book, lol.

    Great review!

  4. I remember reading Speak in middle and high school and being totally blown away by it. It remained one of my favorite books for years. I haven't enjoyed her later books nearly as much but I'm still looking forward to read this one. Thanks for the review, Alea!

  5. I've only read Speak and Wintergirls as of yet by her (my review is up too now!). I loved both, actually. The topics are difficult, but I'm one of those people that like to read and watch films about these type of things. It's awful and sad, but very interesting to me.


  6. Wow! This is such a difficult topic. I haven't read the book, but I've seen documentaries on eating disorders; it is so painful to watch someone starve herself to death. I may consider reading this book, but I'd have to be in the right mood. Very nice review.

  7. For some reason, I'm surprised this is your first Laurie Halse Anderson book. It's on my wish list.

  8. Woah! Your first L.H.A. book! You should read SPEAK ;)
    Interesting review- its the first one I have seen that was mixed.

  9. I'm also reading this at the moment and although I think the writing style is wonderful I simply can't relate to the topic. However it's very very powerful and gives an incredible insight inside Lia's mind. I thought Speak an incredible book, a brave and honest book that changes lives of readers. And I've just, just read Twisted, which was like a knife to the gut. So disturbing I actually had to take breaks between chapters. Still think about it. So, yes, am quite, quite impressed with her writing.

  10. I read this a few weeks ago, and I have to say that while it was difficult to read, I really loved this book. I just don't think anyone does YA voice quite like Anderson and this is definitely a story that needed to be told.

  11. I really love the trailer. I love the author though!

  12. I've never read any Anderson. It looks so intense, not really my thing. Sounds creepy but very powerful...

  13. I never was a "wintergirl" but I was always teased as a kid for being naturally thin.

  14. Anonymous8:16 AM

    I've had an arc of this sitting on my bookshelf for a while, and I've found the subject matter a bit daunting - I want to read it, but I don't want to. You know? I think you touch on the exact reasons why I'm a little afraid to pick it up - how hard it is going to be to watch her kill herself.

  15. I've never read any L.H.A. either, which is weird because she seems like the type of author I'd love but for some reason I shy away from her books. I guess I burned out a little bit on "Issue books" a while ago. I really should give her a try, though.

  16. Beth Kephart- I sort of feel like the odd one out so thank you for that :)

    Lenore- Yeah unlike Willow or If I Stay which also deal with tough stuff, it's hard to really like this, where as I liked those! If only I could know how to tell before hand which category a book fit in to! I am happy to say though, that there are now some "sad" books that I like!

    BookChic- i'm hoping i like Speak more!

    Thanks everyone, great to hear your input! I'm excited to see how I like Speak, I have a few others of her's to try too!

  17. I've read Speak and Twisted, and right now I'm reading Wintergirls. When I saw it in my school library I grabbed it before anyone else could've and checked it out. :)

    I agree it's kind of a weird but interesting writing style, but I like how it's something different. It makes it almost easier to read, in my opinion, because the way it's written isn't boring.

    So far I think it's good, but definitely kind of intense, book.

  18. I have this book in my TBR pile and it sounds fantastic. I can't wait to check it out. I don't think her writing style will bother me too much.

  19. Wintergirls is a perfect glimpse into the mind of a girl whose actions are almost unimaginable. It also allows the reader to understand how perplexed her family is, how much her actions hurt them, and why they don't understand why she can't just stop killing herself. I suggest this book for any teacher, parent, or adult who regularly deals with the trials and tribulations of female adolescence. It will undoubtedly shed some light upon the pain and torture of all involved with eating disorders.


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