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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Don't you love it when a book lives up to the hype? Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson does.

What's the book about?

Lia and her best friend Cassie make a vow to each other to be the skinniest and to keep each other strong when it's hard to be skinny. At Thanksgiving of their senior year, Cassie checks into a hotel room alone and dies. Before she dies, she calls Lia thirty-three times and Lia does not answer. (This is not a spoiler, btw, it's in the first few pages.) The rest of the book is Lia's reaction to Cassie's death and how it makes her feel about herself.

What did I think about it, the short answer?
I loved it. Anderson has a way of writing that feels like how I think. If you loved Speak, you'll love this one.

And the long answer?

Wintergirls is narrated by Lia and the reader sees just how obsessed she becomes with Cassie's death, and how little she thinks of herself. I've never really struggled with my weight so I can't vouch for this being how someone with an eating disorder thinks, but it sure seems real to me. Lia has such a warped view of her body and her need to be thin, thinner, thinnest is the driving factor in her life. She endlessly counts calories and pretends to eat and weighs herself down with quarters when she's put on a scale. Her life becomes an endless goal to be smaller. It's fascinating to me because at times you think she's quite delusional about it, but at other times she seems to understand that she's killing herself.

The book is really about Lia. It's not about her family or Cassie or anything else, even though those things happen. Yes, Lia has problems with her parents that probably led to this, but those aren't the issues that you see on every page. The book is about her struggle with accepting herself and with Cassie's death. It's about how Lia feels NOW. Lia has to decide if she wants to be like Cassie or if she wants help.

I'm sure you've seen a few quotes from the book, but I can't help by share one. From page 14, when Lia is thinking about Cassie's death:

There's no point in asking why, even though everybody will. I know why. The
harder question is "why not?" I can't believe she ran out of answers before I
Was it easy?

There was another part I loved more, another paragraph that really hit me, but it's got a tiny spoiler so I decided not to post. The whole book hits hard emotionally, and I suspect that for anyone who has struggled with eating disorders it's going to really wallop them. It was a terrific book and will easily be on my favorites list for the year.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Viking Juvenile


288 pages



  1. I wasn't too interested in this one but with all the reviews I've seen lately it has piqued my interest.

    Thanks for not posting that little spoiler :)

  2. I'm so glad to see it lived up to its hype. I can't wait to read it now.

  3. I had an eating disorder as a teenager and I still struggle with body image issues, so I've been waiting to read this one. It sounds very powerful.

  4. By the way, I've just noticed the fab photos on your new header! I haven't been keeping up too well with my google reader over the last few weeks, when did that happen?! Beautiful!


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