“Wintergirls is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. It follows the story of Lia, an eighteen-year-old girl dealing with anorexia nervosa. The novel opens with the news that Lia’s ex-best friend Cassie, who was both anorexic and bulimic, has died under mysterious circumstances. The novel follows the course of Lia’s grief and further struggles with anorexia, her difficult relations with her parents and stepmother, and her search to learn about Cassie’s fate.” – Wikipedia
Wintergirls is a strong, thought-provoking work of art that I found enjoyable. Thanks to my friend Jenna, I opened up the book and could not put it down till I was finished with the read. The attention to detail throughout the book is divine, and the way the words are interlaced and the writing in general kept me turning pages.
The story is a terribly sad read, the overall feel of the book depressing. The only true happy moment is in the end and that is brushed over abruptly, with only eluding to a happy ending. Anderson kept the theme of the book steady with constant mentions of Lia’s need for weigh loss, her need to be 0, and her turmoil with her mother and father. Eating disorders are not happy topics in light conversation, so I was expecting this sad factor throughout.
The book does cover a character Laurie Anderson created from her mind that has an eating disorder. She did not use a real person that she personally interviewed, however she used inspiration from readers’ of her others works letters. She spoke with specialists on the subject of eating disorders to make sure she was following the proper progression of physical and mental fall out in Lia.
She keeps her character’s human, giving them thoughts and feeling that we have all at one point in time kept inside us. She shows the stubborn struggle in Lia to be a normal girl against the need to be skinny and empty from the inside out. Lia herself is a deep thinker, lost in her own mind the majority of the story. She passes through life caring only about the numbers, calories, and her size. The attention to the calories and the food intake keeps the story on track and Anderson never strays from the original concept; that being two girls, one dead, and one alive mourning the loss of her friend, struggling with two different eating disorders in a competition to who can be the smallest.
Such lines as “I keep thinking that If I could just unzip my skin, step out of the body, then I would see who I really am,” and “…I do is wrong, and that my only hope is to allow them to insert her stem cells in my marrow so she can grow a new her dressed in my skin,” keep you balanced in the depression and internal conflict that Lia has dipped herself in. She’s struggling with the ghosts of her guilt and past, her mother and father, and her step-mother and step-sister. The purpose of this book is to show the darkness that is inside someone with an eating disorder; to help those that do not know or understand the thoughts that race through the minds of many teen and adult women in our world today.
If you’re looking for a happy read on a girl who overcomes her struggle and fights for her own personal body to be saved this is not your book. This story is sad and the happy ending is cut short, reality sinking in deep. Lia does have a happy moment in the end, but I’ll not give it all away with my personal view on what has happened.