Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Description: “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.

Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate (about eating disorders, death, etc.)
Sexual: Mild

This book touched a lot of issues, not just my own but for many other teenage girls (and some boys) who feel as though they will never be perfect until they lose that last pound. There was a time that I was a bit like Lia was— not as bad as she was with her eating habits (counting calories, stepping on scale and checking weight twenty times a day in hopes of achieving those goals, etc.), but if I continued there would be a high chance I would be like her today, or worse.

I believe that the beginning of the story can be a very big trigger for someone who is immune to or struggling with an eating disorder, and especially someone who is bullied or just wants this for themselves. If you want to begin this story, I feel I have to be honest with this. Eating disorders are not something to play around with; they are very dangerous and can very well leave you alone in a dirty old motel room dead, such as Lia’s friend. Because I know more about eating disorders than I’d care to admit and I know how it works extremely well by now, this novel did not affect me as much as it could others who are new to this or struggling with it. But it still had a large significance to the reason I had to stop telling myself what I was doing was wrong and to stop doing it. Even though I still feel bad about eating, whether it is a larger portion or a minimum, I know what could happen if I stop overall and I definitely know I do not want this to happen.

This being admitted, just beware before you begin this. But I do believe that this is a good book for someone to read. It touches on a level that many people are afraid to get into, and I respect the author for going into the deepest depths of the story. If you are as empathetic as I am, you will be swimming in the wide sea of transitions and countless issues that you have faced or are on the weak level of fronting.

Cover: I like the cover, because it is unique and has that feel to it that makes you want to crack that spine and read the book from start to finish.

Setting: The setting was never mentioned, but as it was snowing and the author is also from this specific location, I would assume the novel takes place in New York.

Characters: The lead character in the story, Lia, although a strong girl, obliviously forces more problems onto herself instead of washing them away in the sink her blood goes down the drain into. She cannot go to her father, who watches her every move as though she were some spectacle until wary observation, nor can she go to her stepmother or her real mother, the woman who basically abandoned her. Her younger sister is adorable and tries to help Lia in ways only a young child will try. Although their commitment to her is unwavering, Lia shoves their love and help away from her as she continues on, not wanting to be the girl everyone labels fat and ugly. She doesn’t accept any help until it is forced upon her by those she never expected would enter into her life and would comfort her the way they did.

Storyline: The storyline is a sad but relatable and touches on issues some authors have been afraid to pursue. It is quite helpful in some aspects, but you should beware with the beginning because it can be a trigger to the gun that is bulimia and depression.

Writing: The descriptions in the book enthralled me, especially the ones about food and her cutting (as horrible as it may sound, this has always interested me), and the imagery was utterly amazing. It has just the right amount of simplicity in some areas and the perfect amount of definition in others.

Surprises: There might be a few surprises to many others who have never read reviews or heard about this specific story before, but considering I have foolishly done this, the ending was a bit spoiled for me. It did, however, end the way I would have liked for Lia and those who care about her.

Overall: 4.5 stars. A very moving piece, this story is not one that anyone can easily forget after reading. Do not pick this book up if you are squeamish, for it has cutting and several disorders mentioned.

Recommended: I would recommend this story to the older teen crowd or those who are more mature, as it has serious issues involved in it, and those who are either struggling with the same problem or have a friend or family member who are, so they could help and advise them.

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