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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


by Laurie Halse Anderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Creativity - 10/10
Plot - 10/10
Characters - 10/10
Writing - 10/10
Pace - 10/10
Ending - 10/10
Stars - 5/5

All in all, it is an amazing book, everyone should read it! ( )
  marybethsoper | Dec 12, 2016 |
”It’s not nice when girls die.” - p. 1

”She offered herself to the big, bad wolf and didn’t scream when he took the first bite.” (p. 22)

Wow. You guys.

This one blew me away. I would say it’s up there with Hannah Green’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

One of the teenagers I supervise at the library has been recommending this author to me forever. I did read the other book by this author that she recommended (Speak) and really liked it, but I put off reading this one for a long time because I read the summary - it’s about teenage girls with anorexia - and figured I wouldn’t be able to relate. But Anderson’s writing is so powerful and immersive it doesn’t matter. This book sucked me in immediately with the raw, real anger and pain of the narrator’s voice.

”Here stands a girl clutching a knife. There is grease on the stove, blood in the air, and angry words piled in the corners. We are trained not to see it, not to see any of it.” (p. 3)

Our narrator/main character is Lia. Her parents are divorced, her relationship with both of them, and her stepmother is strained, though she really loves her stepsister.

Lia’s former best friend, Cassie, has just been found dead in a hotel room when the story opens. Cassie tried phoning Lia 33 times before her death but Lia, angry at her, didn’t answer. Now she is roiling with guilt and anguish over her friend’s death, to the point where she begins to see ghostly manifestations and hallucinates that Cassie is stalking and tormenting her.

”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 did.” (p. 14)

All the while, Lia is struggling with anorexia. She has already been hospitalized twice and, though she tries to convince her family that she is fully committed to recovering, she is still very much suffering from the disease. As the story progresses, we see that she further blames herself for Cassie’s eating disorder (bulimia) as the two had been enabling each other.

”We held hands when we walked down the gingerbread path into the forest, blood dripping from our fingers. We danced with witches and kissed monsters. We turned us into wintergirls, and when she tried to leave, I pulled her back into the snow because I was afraid to be alone.” (p. 99)

The story is amazingly well written - and I love the way it weaves in fairy tales, dreams and nightmares, ghosts, etc. Lia is caught suspended between life and death, and suspended between adulthood and childhood. The first snowfall of the year triggers a fleeting moment of nostalgia and memory of innocence:

”The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds.” (p. 15)

Throughout the book she thinks of her childhood as the time when she was a “real” girl. We witness her descent as she loses more and more of her grip on reality. This is a powerful, heart-wrenching read. ( )
  catfantastic | Dec 10, 2016 |
i think this would be a good book for someone who is going through the death of a friends or someone they know. i think this would be good because it talks about how to cope and deal with things like death.
  ksteim23 | Dec 9, 2016 |
Extraordinary story that illuminates the life of an anorexic. ( )
  SueS7 | Nov 26, 2016 |
The first Laurie Halse Anderson novel I read was Speak and I instantly became a fan of her writing. Her writing style is engaging, yet unassuming. Both books that I read were about issues that interest me. Wintergirls is by far, the best novel that I've ever read that features a protagonist with an eating disorder.

Most eating disorder fiction novels read more like a procedural manual. They focus so much on the day-to-day behaviors of people with anorexia or bulimia that you get the impression that they're giving you tips rather than getting into the minds of these sufferers.

Laurie Halse Anderson got it right. She focused on the character's mental anguish and behaviors like calorie counting took the back seat. I wanted to know how anorexics feel, not how they hide their disorder. You'll know exactly how Lia feels while she struggles with her anorexia.

At one point Lia finally opens up to her therapist and her therapist's insight had some wonderful depth to it, especially in this conversation when Lia tells her therapist that she sees and speaks to Cassie's spirit:

"You think I made it up," I say. "You don't believe that I see ghosts."

"I believe that you've created a metaphorical universe in which you can express your darkest fears. In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves, and sometimes we do such a good job, we lose track of reality."

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who's curious about Laurie Halse Anderson's novels or anyone who's looking for a great eating disorder fiction novel. ( )
1 vote JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anderson, Laurie Halseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stith, JeannieReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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[Persephone] was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands to take hold of the pretty plaything. And the earth, full of roads leading every which way, opened up under her....She cried with a piercing voice....But not one of the immortal ones, or of human mortals, heard her.

Homeric Hymn to Demeter, translated by Gregory Nagy

The King gave orders that they should let her sleep quietly till the time came for her to awake.

The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, by Charles Perrault, 1696, translated by Charles Welsh
To Scot - for building the fire that keeps me warm when the blizzard rages outside.
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So she tells me, the words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee.
We turned us into wintergirls, and when she tried to leave, I pulled her back into the snow because I was afraid to be alone.
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Book description
"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the halls.

"Tell us your secret," the girls whisper, on 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 peoples lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her 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 emotional wrenching, lyrically written book since National Book Award finalist Speak, bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
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Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

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Laurie Halse Anderson is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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