Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Wintergirls is #88 on my To-Read list out of 100, which is surprising to me because Speak is #26, and I enjoyed this one more. Both books are contemporary fiction written in first person POV dealing with the very different struggles of two girls.

Lia just found out her best friend for 9 years is dead. Her stepmother blabs on and on about the tragedy, not realizing Lia has already zoned out. It doesn’t matter that they haven’t spoken in the last couple months. They were supposed to be together forever. Thick and thin. A horrible realization occurs to Lia: Cassie called her 33 times the night of her death and Lia ignored her.

The girls made a pact together some years ago. They were to be the skinniest girls in school, no matter what the costs. Lia’s parents and doctors realized the problem after she got to the peak of her skinniness, and they shipped her into a hospital where they shoved fattening foods down her throat. She obeyed and went along with their ploys until the release, and then she started over again. She wanted needed to be the skinniest.

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This is a creepy novel, and it saddens me to think girls actually do this to themselves to be skinny. Honestly, I think being too skinny is gross. The lengths Lia goes through to not eat and the pain she suffers through is torturous. I wanted to scream at her, “EAT PLEASE EAT!” Throughout the book, I almost felt like I understood Lia’s problems. Anderson creates Lia’s personality in a way where she seemed real. I know this is a real issue, and I almost felt I was reading a diary of a real girl with anorexia.

Anderson made Lia so strong, yet so broken at the same time. There is no doubt about it; it takes willpower and strength and courage to starve yourself so completely. I’m not saying it should be done, nor should these girls be applauded, but the dedication to their plan is awing. I felt Lia’s need to fulfill her bet, but I didn’t understand it.

When Lia  with her stepsister Emma, she seems so normal. I found myself taken aback with the simple activities they took part in together. Then, Lia’s broken side would shine through again when she was alone, and I would literally slump in despair.

I didn’t like her stepmother all that much. I think she’s supposed to seem loving, to an extent, towards Lia, but to me she comes across as straining to love her at times. Her parents are divorced and don’t get along at all, and their broken family is another reason which drove Lia over the edge. Anderson crafts a character that so many people– teens, girls, boys, adults– can relate to. Family problems along with pressure to live up to impossible beauty standards make Lia’s story intense.

Lia’s struggle speaks to me because of the first person layout. It doesn’t have a structured plot with clear events and dates, but rather, it has her thoughts strung together on a clothesline interrupted by concrete occurrences.

The book demonstrates the after affects of a bad divorce on a child, and the dangers of an eating disorder. A must read for all teenagers. 

4 Stars

“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.”

“Who wants to recover? It took me years to get that tiny. I wasn’t sick; I was strong.”

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Cried While Reading | Stealing Pages

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Books I’ve Read so Far this Year | Stealing Pages

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