Kat's Reviews > Wintergirls

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
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's review
Jul 22, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: ya-fiction, death
Read in January, 2007

So here I am again, seemingly always inexorably drawn to YA "issue novels" that I can find no other words to describe besides "maddening" or "brutal". This is no exception. Naturally, I loved Anderson's "Speak" when I read it several years, and also enjoyed "Twisted" recently, so I was eager to read this "harrowing" (sorry, couldn't help myself) tale of a girl's battle with anorexia.

18-year-old Lia is angry. She's a liar. She's obsessive and selfish. She's over-the-top melodramatic. She pushes everyone away. And she's really, really sick. Talk about a Bell Jar...Lia pulls you deep down into her disturbed inner-psyche, which is flooded with her severe anorexia, self-mutilation, and distorted self-image, her guilt and mourning over the loss of her childhood best friend Cassie, and her dark visions and hauntings. It's...maddening! The prose is filled with lyrical fantasy-esque imagery of faeries, ghosts, and magic, which contrast starkly with the cold, bleak New England winter, the physical/mental suffering caused by Lia's eating disorder, and the grim reality of Cassie's death. Anderson uses literary gimmicks devices like strikethroughs to indicate what Lia is really feeling vs. what she is expected to feel, but it contributes to the delirious and disturbed tone of the novel.

I was so disturbed and on edge while reading this but couldn't put it down. As the narrative storm raged on, I increasingly felt that it would be impossible to end on any sort of good note, but was relieved to find at least some sort of glimmer of hope for Lia at the end. However, this book is NOT about recovery and solutions (unlike Littman's "Purge", which I happened to be reading at the same time...Why do I do this to myself?!), and I fear it could actually be triggering to those suffering from EDs. Lia cannot talk about food without obsessively stating its caloric value in parentheses, and she gives clear instructions for all of her sneaky tricks to evade family, friends, therapists' suspicion. However, this book is a terrifying yet enlightening glimpse into a troubled mind, and it could potentially help those who live/work with troubled teens to understand just how deep and dark it all can be. Now, on to the next emotionally masochistic YA novel...
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message 1: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Kat this is a beautiful review! I love it.

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