Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Lia finds out at breakfast that her ex-friend Cassie died alone in a motel room. Now Lia is left with the question of why she didn’t bother to answer her cell phone when Cassie called. 33 times. There are rumors that it was drugs or alcohol that killed her, alone in that room. Lia is fighting her own demons, unable to handle what is happening to her and what happened to Cassie. Lia has been hospitalized twice for eating disorders and is not on the road to recovery, but instead heading deeper and deeper into the mental maze of weight loss, lies and self abuse.
What a perfect author for this book! I have read many books about eating disorders for teens, but none have led me this deeply into the psychological torment. Lia’s world is filled with obsession, counting calories, avoiding food, lying about it and covering up. Her world is strange, foreign, but through the skillful writing also amazingly familiar and real. The book is a slow torture of a novel, building in soft, painful crescendos to what is inevitable.
Through this haze of pain and self-hate, Halse Anderson offers delectable prose that shines and sings. Here is just one of the passages that had me gasping with the amazing writing:
This girl shivers and crawls under the covers with all her clothes on and falls into an overdue library book, a faerie story with rats and marrow and burning curses. The sentences build a fence around her, a Times Roman 10-point barricade, to keep the thorny voices in her head from getting too close.
That is one of many places where Halse Anderson creates such beauty out of what is normal, juxtaposing it with a gentle touch against the agony that is Lia’s existence.
Highly recommended and perfect for book discussions, this is one of those novels that girls will share, keep overlong from libraries, and want their own copies of. Destined to be one of the best of the year, I just may hear Printz bells chiming for this a year from now. Appropriate for ages 13-16.