Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher: Viking Juvenile (March 19, 2009)
Harcover: 288 pages
Price: $12.23 from Amazon
“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.

Review: I'm serious, I'm going to spew complete nonsense here. I don't know what this book just did to my brain, but it completely screwed it around 276 degrees. All I'm saying, is that this was some book, and I'm going to write my feelings down about it before I forget tomorrow, despite the fact that probably no one's going to read this weird review at this weird hour.

I admit Wintergirls was a hard book to get into at the beginning. The writing style is definitely different. It's sort of hard to read and first, but thenit grew on me and into the swirl of ghosts, winter, and forbidden thoughts. I grew to love the way the story was written, woven thickly with hauntingly beautiful images and metaphors, and I couldn't put this book down once I got past the first 100 pages or so.

As far as the character and storyline go, they certainly went. I've never personally experienced an eating disorder, but the writer was able to depict anorexia in a chilling way that made perfect sense to me. Granted, the whole story isn't about anorexia, it's also about Lia's family problems and her loss of her best friend among other things, but anorexia plays a major part and I could see Lia's development as she struggled to overcome her problem. I do wish I could have seen a bit more into how she got into anorexia in the first place, and sometimes I just wanted her to get help so bad. I get a little queasy on the subject of blood, so I was cringing when I read about her cutting herself. And, just saying, the author definitely did her research.

On the subject of flashbacks, Lia's memories, which were frequent, were skillfully melded into the story. I barely noticed the transition, which is unusual for me since I generally don't like stories that are half told in flashbacks. So that's definitely saying something about the author's writing ability.

Bottom Line: Wintergirls is delightfully chilling and beautifully haunting. I don't exactly know how to describe it. The writing is definitely hard to take in at first, and to some that may be a major turn-off, but after I got used to it, it completely absorbed me. In fact, I pretty much have no memory of what I did towards the end of the book. All I remember is holding the book and knowing I had to keep on reading; it was that good. So, yes, while there a few minor faults to the book, I would say read it. Stick through the beginning, and stick around long enough to become a wintergirl.