Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all-hope.
As someone who was an intense fan of 'Speak' and 'Catalyst' during those pre-teen/teen overlap years, I wanted to grab 'Wintergirls' as soon as my friends from the NYC Teen Ink Program (who included Patty, CL, Parks and... well, she's Peanuts now, apparently! :P) recommended it. I had a quick peek on amazon while making an order, but the brevity of my peek, the title, cover, first few words of the blurb and the fact that Melissa Marr had my mind on wintery faeries made me think it was in the fantasy genre.
Fantasy? From Laurie Halse Anderson? No! I love her gritty way of tackling real life issues, and I didn't want some story about wintergirls, whatever they were.
Then, in Dubai, on a fruitless quest for 'The Reckoning', I picked it up again and read the whole blurb. A lightbulb went off over my head. I smiled, mouthed 'oh', handed it to my mom with a firm 'I want this', and then proceeded to read it through my journey back home.
It was just as gritty, moving and real as I'd hoped. This time around, Laurie Halse Anderson tackles teenage eating disorders in a way that delves deep into victims' minds: into their motivations and the consequences. Lia is a likable character who's easy to sympathize with: our insight into her life banishes the view of anorexia as a distant, incomprehensible disorder, letting us see Lia as the mostly normal teenager she is.
Her relationship with her half-sister Emma was one of my favorite parts of the book because it showed that far from being beyond our reach and understanding, Lia's just as capable of connection as anyone else, despite her illness.
'Wintergirls' wasn't perfect- at times I thought that Elijah's inclusion or exclusion might not have made much of a difference- but in the end, the most important thing for me when I'm reading a book is whether I'm hooked and enjoying myself: for 'Wintergirls', those two were a definite 'yes!'