Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderso
“Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss—her life—and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her.”–Back Cover Description
Character and Plot
From page one, Lia is deep into mental illness and anorexia. The author shows us her world through her hallucinating eyes: a broken family that tries and fails to understand her; a friend she should have helped who now haunts her; classmates who speak meaningless words; other wintergirls who encourage her to “stay strong.” Despite Lia’s distorted view of herself, she shows her sweet personality with her stepsister, Emma. This relationship provides the single thread of hope that runs through the novel.
The plot reminds me of Dexter and Breaking Bad based on its disturbing spiral from Lia’s memories of being “a real girl” into her reality of a “wintergirl.” You watch Lia do horrible things to herself, and though in your head you scream at her to stop, you can’t tear your eyes off the page as you witness it happen.
If Tim Burton had written Alice and Wonderland, it might have looked something like this book. This is the second book I have read by Laurie Halse Anderson, and once again her writing leaves me gaping in awe. Her descriptions are as beautiful as they are haunting. Her tweaks of style serve a purpose. Running words together, crossing words out, filling entire pages with the same words, and leaving pages empty tell the story with the visual of the words themselves in addition concepts they represent.
At first, I didn’t like the cover, but after finishing the book, I agree with it. I don’t believe the description on the back cover does justice to the potency of the narrative.
This book is not for readers who like long walks on the beach, but the right type would binge read it. Through the lens of its pages is an unflinching look into a sick mind and a grieving heart.
I’ll be honest, this book was too intense for me. It forced me back to a place I’d thought I’d left behind. Halfway through the book, I knew I should never have picked it up, but by then, I needed to reach the end. I needed the hope of a happy ending.
The right reader wouldn’t regret shelling out their precious pennies for a hardcover copy. I’m glad I can return mine to the library, lest it haunt me from my bookshelf.
I advise you to tie a rope around your waist before diving into this book, because after swimming in the darkness, you’ll need a lifeline to pull yourself back to the surface.
Read with caution.
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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Wintergirls”
I was really scared to pick up this book because I’ve dealt with similar issues that the book deals with. Your review re-affirms that I should leave this one alone because I think the intensity would be too much to handle. Great review!
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Yes, while the writing is excellent, it definitely brought up some ugly feelings from the past.
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