Review: Wintergirls

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Summary: Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from bulimia as she struggles with anorexia.

Anderson unflinchingly plunges readers into the mind of Lia, forcing us to count calories with her, punish our bodies for eating too much, cut ourselves to feel control. I won't lie and say it wasn't disturbing, almost scary. Wintergirls has to be one of the most desolate, and traumatic novels I have read.

Anderson's writing is almost hypnotising, she has a way of explaining a situation thoroughly using as few words as possible. Genius. It is lyrical and poetic. It did a wonderful job at magnifying the emotions. Many of the jarring and raw descriptions stayed in my head long after I put the book down. Anderson also used a unique printing style in this novel. Strike through words and sentences, blank pages that create the most thrilling plot seem almost unbearable, different fonts for websites and thoughts

Anderson tackles this difficult subject matter in such an honest and unflinching way. Wintergirls is about Lia's relationship and obsession with food, yes. But it isn't just that. It's about grief. About guilt. About family and control and addiction. It's about not just sinking, but actually diving towards the bottom until you are faced with a decision: to let yourself drown or to start fighting to reach the surface and breath.

Lia's struggles are so in your face that you can't help but become emotionally connected. Her family and loved ones keep reaching out she doesn't want to get better. That's the problem. Cheating on weigh-ins. Pretending to eat food she hasn't. Detesting her own body, although she is nothing but skin and bones. This is a great example where I didn't like the protagonist but I still empathised with her.

Wintergirls is the voice of a generation of females starving for acceptance, love, understanding, and freedom. Wintergirls will  transcend time and genres. 

This is not an easy book to read - nor should it be. Laurie Halse Anderson places the reader deep into the psyche of a girl whose demons are threatening to overwhelm her.


YA reader said...

Fantastic review - I can't wait to read this one. Have you read Chains? It's brilliant.