by Laurie Halse Anderson
published March 9th 2010 by Speak (first published March 19th 2009)
details Paperback, 288 pages
literary awards An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2010), Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2009), An ALA Best Book for Young Adults (2010)
“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.
I read Wintergirls a couple of weeks ago and it took me a while to process. Laurie Halse Anderson does a wonderful job of taking her readers into the mind of an anorexic. Counting calories with each meal, feeling guilt and anger eat her from the inside out. Lia is born to a perfectionist physician mother who is cold and measures worth by her accomplishments. Her father isn’t quite sure how to handle the situation and step-mother is stuck in the role of weigh-in nurse. Lia’s thoughts become more and more erratic and disorganized as she spirals further into the pit of self-destruction, telling herself over and over again “must not eat.”
This is not a fun read by any means, nor a feel good fuzzy book. It has graphic descriptions of cutting, suicidal thought and anger. Wintergirls may not be a wise choice for any girls recently in recovery for eating disorders because of triggers to relapse.
Some really good quotes from the book
“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles. “
“Do I want to die from the inside out or the outside in?”
“I am angry that I starved my brain and that I sat shivering in my bed at night instead of dancing or reading poetry or eating ice cream or kissing a boy…”
“I don’t just use yarn from a store. I buy old sweaters from consignment shops. The older the better, and unravel them. There are countries of women in this scarf/shawl/blanket. Soon it will be big enough to keep me warm. ”
“I’m learning how to taste everything. ”
“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.
I am thawing. “Laurie Halse Anderson (Wintergirls)
Visit Laurie Halse Anderson’s website at http://www.wintergirls.net/ for a view inside the book, resources for teacher and other products
In this video Laurie talks about why she wrote the book and her conflicts in writing it…