Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
It's been awhile since I've read a Contemporary Young Adult book. Most stellar Young Adult reads I've had are under fantasy or dystopia. Nothing from Contemporary YA really stood out for me, save for Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. But I decided to get back and test the waters on this genre once more. Call it a Fantasy/Dystopia Purge. So, I was quite amazed at my latest discovery that is Laurie Halse Anderson.
|Image from goodreads|
Wintergirls tells a story about Cassie and Lia, best of friends, sharing everything even the obsession with being skinny to the point of having an eating disorder. Cassie suddenly breaks off her friendship with Lia leaving the latter confused and devastated. Over six months the two had no communication up until the 33 phone calls Lia received from Cassie over the weekend. Lia, still filled with anger at their sudden break-up, refused to pick up the phone. Little did she know that those were Cassie's distress calls as she was already spiraling down into the depths bulimia which ultimately cost her, her life. This sudden and horrific death haunted Lia in the form of Cassie's ghost that pops up in the most unexpected places and times adding to her already full plate of dealing with her parents, stepmother and stepsister, and her own recovery from anorexia.
Laurie Halse Anderson did not hold back, she revealed eating disorders in its truest and rawest form. The depression, the negative self-talk and distorted body perception, the harrowing actions of cutting, purging, and starving. But it wasn't at all as grisly as it may sound because all these were conveyed with words that are like prose. The metaphors used were beautiful but are also very accurate descriptions of the thoughts and actions of a girl suffering from an eating disorder. All throughout the book, there were sentences, phrases, or words that are sometimes crossed out in order to depict how Lia wants to establish that sense of control even with her thoughts, by doing some sort of "editing" with it. Showing how she is predisposed towards an eating disorder. At some point in the book, there is a blank page or two that somehow strongly conveys a blackout, the silence that comes in your mind after the exhaustion of battling with inner demons.
I really felt for Lia and had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to save her. She sees food in numbers and often refers to her pre-eating disorder self as "the real girl". Cassie, albeit a ghost, was no exception. She also comes across as a strong character and I felt for her as well. Her death was truly horrible and untimely. Even Lia's parents, stepmother, and stepsister were crafted nicely. I was able to feel the struggle of these people at seeing someone they love waste away through an eating disorder. Of how they all truly wanted to help Lia get better but sometimes they are either blocked by Lia herself and get frustrated or hindered by their own troubles.
When I first picked this book up with it's title "Wintergirls", I though it was about girls into ice skating, or a bunch of teens on a ski trip, something teenybopper really. I sure wasn't prepared for what I had just read. This book runs high on emotions. It's creepy, haunting, and riveting. At the end of the book, I get why these girls are referred to as "Wintergirls". It was a revelation, that tied up everything I had just read.
Laurie Halse Anderson's writing style as I've previously discussed is something that I've not come across before and I loved it. I will definitely be on the look out for her other works.