Sunday, 29 May 2011

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is the renown author of hard-hitting novels aimed at a young adult audience - something she has been criticised for greatly, especially with her first novel, Speak which was banned in some schools in America because of the way it was written and the fact it happened fictionally and in real life in American schools. I know some of the events in Speak happen in my own school.
I was a bit dubious about Wintergirls when I first picked it up in the library, but I'd seen good (and some bad) on the blogosphere and it's about a subject people wouldn't dare write a whole novel about: anorexia in teenage girls.
I'm glad I did.

Synopsis:  This novel follows senior year for Lia, a seventeen anorexic who also has to battle with the horrific death of her former best friend, Cassie who continuously haunts her and tells her how she isn't good enough - too ugly, too fat, too-everything. However, the death is slightly her fault, Cassie's last act was calling Lia 33 times before dying alone in an empty motel room of shock. Lia feels stronger and stronger, the lighter she becomes and feels more in control of her life with her difficult mother, father and step-mother. Maybe she can make herself disappear altogether.

Review: Laurie Halse Anderson, for me, has done it again. She's made this terrible, disturbing tale into an emotional, heart breaking novel for young adults. Now, I'm not saying it's a perfect book, there are some flaws but it's a pretty good book for what Anderson has to do: show what it is like to be anorexic without scaring kids. For me, she's done it.

My dubious-ness continued from the first page, it DOES take a couple of chapters to get into it and get used to Anderson's writing style and Lia's voice. Actually, at the start, I was close to stopping and not even continuing. However, something made me continue and I'm glad that I did because it did get better as it went on. It's not the type of book that catches your attention straight away but lets you gently get into it until delivering the shocking killer punches.
I've read some reviews of people being annoyed by the crossing outs that run throughout the book. To be honest, I liked them. They showed the real Lia and showed how there is conflict between her real self and the anorexia side of her. They weren't so frequent to be annoying personally and they only cropped up in big serious situations.

The story is sad, let's face it, but for me, it's not tears-running-down-your-cheeks sad. Although, it does make you think about what it would be like to be anorexic, it really does show you the mentality of one and why they do it - something that they are also criticised about as people just don't understand why a young girl would do that sort of thing...well, here you are. Read this and find out why.
I could even say that I too started behaving slightly like an anorexic. I am pretty thin, I admit. I don't put on much weight and I am only a size 12 because I'm tall and lanky. I have also been called anorexic numerous times, especially when I started secondary school. Actually, one of my friends now, when I first met him five years ago, whenever he saw me he would call me the name until I told him to shut up and hit him (on the arm in a kind of 'I'm-not-joking-but-this-punch-is-not-going-to-hurt' kind of way). He stopped after that. But still, it's not a nice thing to be called that at all. This week, I started worrying more about the way I look, what I'm wearing, what I'm eating, do I look bloated. I have no utter idea why. I can only think I'm doing it because of the book.

Now, I'm not saying this book turns you into a self-conscience freak for a week but it does make you think a little like her and get into her head a little.
   What I also liked was the way Cassie was there throughout...but then not. You never find out if Lia is dreaming or actually serious, although Cassie is a little bit creepy. The word wintergirls is referred to in the book and from what I can tell, it means like really thin girls. This theme of winter is also used really cleverly.

Overall, apart from some flaws and being an sort of anorexic for a week, I enjoyed this book completely. For me, it was better than Speak although it is slightly hard to compare when they are such different books. I loved the ending for this book and just reading about Lia and finding out more and understanding more about anorexia. This is one I would recommend for older readers and for ones that don't mind this kind of subject and Lia's obsessive voice on what she looks like and, especially, eats.
I take my hat off to Laurie Halse Anderson for this book.

I give it 4 out of 5

Author's Website
Pages: 278
Publisher: Scholastic
Challenges: None
Related Posts: Review on Speak

1 comment:

  1. Wintergirls made me feel like I was standing right next to whatever character was there at the time.
    I was so scared throughout the book that something would happen to Lia. I was on the edge of my seat, and I kept reading so I could continue finding out what happened.


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