BOOK REVIEW: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Released: March 19, 2009 (Viking Juvenile)
Source: Purchased
Buy Now From: Amazon

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“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 were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

Why I Read This Book

I really hadn’t heard a lot about Wintergirls, but I had been hearing so much praise for Laurie Halse Anderson. When I was in the bookstore, I kept seeing the spine for Wintergirls, but never actually picked it up to look closer. When I finally did, I was struck by how beautiful the book actually is — the cover glimmers in colours and is absolutely gorgeous. When I saw it was about an eating disorder, I was intrigued. I had only read a few books on the topic and enjoyed them all. That mixed with the praise for Anderson meant I just had to pick this up (oh, and it was on sale — score!).

My Thoughts

I don’t ever really need a reason to buy books. Usually when I go into a bookstore, I spend LOTS of time scouring the shelves to find a book on my wishlist at just the right price. Sometimes I find one, sometimes I don’t. But sometimes, I find a gem among the masses and masses of books on the shelves. Wintergirls was one of those. 

I knew that this book was about anorexia, but I really wasn’t prepared for how far Anderson wrote Lia’s character into the disorder. I’m not anorexic and I really don’t know anyone who has had the disorder, but I know enough to know that once you dive into it, it’s hard to get out. Lia’s character got so far into it that she’s having a hard time getting out.

This is a hard book to talk about because it’s hard to look at Lia and see what she’s doing to herself and see her understand that she needs help — but behind that need, there’s also fear.

I felt that the characters were so well written in this book — especially Lia’s character and her family. I can’t even come to think about what a family would go through, knowing that someone had died from anorexia, knowing that their daughter is still fighting that battle. The whole book was both an eye-opener and a heartbreaker.

The best thing about this book was Anderson’s writing. I could understand how some readers might shy away from her writing style — it’s different, almost poetic, sometimes jarring. From the first few pages I was intrigued. I really enjoyed the writing and felt that it flowed perfectly. It reflected the confusion, the anxiety, and the stress that was going through Lia’s head so well that once you were in there, it was hard to get out.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help comparing the book to a car wreck — and that’s not a bad thing. It’s hard reading about a character where you want to scream at her, you want to help her, but you can’t because you’re just the reader. But for a book to feel so real, for a character to feel like they’re reading their deepest and most private thoughts to you — it’s hard to just sit back and take it in and not be affected.

I thought this was a wonderful book, but be warned — this isn’t a trip to the park. You’re not taking a roller coaster ride, eating cotton candy, and confiding with your best friend. Instead, you’re taking her hand and walking straight into a pit of fire. You’ll want to turn back, but you won’t.

Laurie Halse Anderson is a force to be reckoned with. I plan to pick up some of her other books to see what else she has to offer because Wintergirls truly was one of the best.

If you’re not scared away from books about eating disorders, or books written in a different way from the norm, READ THIS BOOK! If you’re looking for something moving, heartbreaking, and real, READ THIS BOOK!

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.


25 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

  1. I definitely don’t feel like this is the book for me, but I appreciate that Laurie Halse Anderson writes books on such tough topics. It says a lot that her books are so popular, and I think it’s great how they resonate with and help people.

  2. There’s no way to say this without sounding weird, but I love books about eating disorders. Love them. I always have and always will. I read a lot more of them when I was younger (Skinny, Massive, Thin) but they still intrigue me. I just find the disorder so fascinating and it sounds like this author was not afraid to get deep. *added to TBR list* 🙂

  3. I’ve never read a book that involves eating disorders before, but if I ever decide to go into that topic, I’ll give this book a try for sure. I keep seeing the cover around as well, and I didn’t have a clue what it was about until I read your review. I’m glad you liked it, even though the topic was a strong one!

  4. I know what you mean !! I felt like screaming at her, and I really wanted to help her and everything, but I couldn’t. And it was hard to just WATCH her try and start healing herself. The writing style was really interesting too, I loved it. There was one part where she was just repeating to herself “Must. Not. Eat.”

  5. This was a pretty fantastic review! I was gifted this book and have yet to read it. You definitely piqued my interest. While i know about LHA and her incredible, touching stories, I’ve yet to read them! I like tough issues books and need to read more of them!

  6. This seems like a really beautiful but heartbreaking book. From the summary, I like Anderson’s writing but shy away from her books because of the subject matters. It seems like it really affected you!

  7. You really have to grow to like the writing style in this, huh? I didn’t love it myself but it was still enjoyable and very emotional. I’m glad you loved it so much it touches a very misunderstood subject and I was fascinated by it as morbid as this sounds >.<

    • Isn’t that funny how weird we all feel when we say we like and are fascinated by a book about eating disorders? It was so interesting! Really piqued my interest in the author.

  8. I’ve never read a book about an eating disorder before.. I think it would be a good read, not because I think reading about people suffering is fun, but because with realistic fiction, I like to see if the characters can overcome their issues, and since they are realistic I get dragged right in and really feel for the characters.

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about the author and this sounds like I would like it. Definitely adding it to my TBR! Thanks forthe review!

  9. Pingback: Clock Rewinders (1) | Reading In Winter

  10. This is one of my favorite books by Laurie Halse Anderson. It sticks with you. I’ve read it a few times and am proud to have it on my shelf. One of the things about the book that stands out to me, besides the gorgeous cover is that the page numbers look like scale numbers. Very interesting. This book and a couple by Sarah Dessen (Just Listen, about sexual assault, and Dreamland about abusive teen dating) are the best issue books I’ve ever read for teens.

    • I’ve yet to read any Sarah Dessen! I really should try her sometime … she has quite the selection of books.

      I liked the design of this one — the cover, the page numbers, etc. It was very well put together!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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