Wintergirls Review

Thursday, March 25, 2010

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one 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 are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
Taken from BookBrowse.

Lia and Cassie forged a friendship when they were just young girls. They weren't yet looking to fit in or stand out, but they had a bond that simply grew deeper and stronger over time. When puberty struck, Cassie found comfort in "Mia," while Lia found "Ana" to be her saviour. The two girls make a pact to be the skinniest girls in school - at all costs. That cost is dire though, when Cassie eventually succumbs to her disease, and Lia is left to either save the shattered pieces of her life, or suffer the same fate as her friend.

This book hit a little close to home. I've struggled with an eating disorder for many years, as I'm sure lots of girls out there understand. The pain of the internal commotion and the desire for perfection leaps from every page of this book. The problem is, and Laurie Halse Anderson captures this perfectly, there is no such thing as perfect. If we go for 80 lbs...when you reach there, the only way to go is down to 75. It's a battle every day, and Lia's struggle was portrayed accurately and truthfully.

That said, Wintergirls is not for the faint of heart. This book tackles serious issues of self-harm and the depth of this emotional and physical disease. I'll admit, reading it made me crave that thin, amazing feeling. Someone once said "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," and Lia lives by that standard. It's written from her POV, a bit like an internal conversation/war, and there are a lot of crossed out phrases, seemingly indicating her need and desire for ultimate control.

I loved this book. I thought it was poignant, relevant, and well-researched. I think Laurie Halse Anderson did a great job portraying the endless fight of eating disorders. The only thing that I would change is making Lia a bit more likable up front. At first I thought she was just a snotty teen with issues. I did, however, grow to feel for her. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking a poignant, powerful, and extremely emotional piece.


  1. I've been wanting to read this for a while now. It's something that I'm sure many girls could relate to including myself. Thanks for the review, it's great.

  2. Aww awesome review Melissa! I can also really relate to this. I loved this book, your review makes me want to reread it! :)

  3. I just handed this to a colleague as I cannot place this one my classroom self. It is just too realistic and not meant for my 8th graders. I love Anderson's writing and while the story disturbed me it was well written. I would have liked a bit more hope at the end, but am not sure that is realistic.

  4. I so want to read this book especially now that you say that it has got extremely 'relatable' characters:)

  5. Hi Melissa!! I'm sorry to hear that you have dealt with these issues yourself, and I think you are brave to share that about yourself. It sounds like the author understands the issue well. It worries me though that while you were reading that you had cravings for the feelings that eating disorders give, and I worry if others have felt the same way while reading this.

  6. There's nothing more terrible than having someone or something else have control over our lives and our choices. Eating disorders are looked upon in such a horrid way nowadays. I know I hear a lot of kids and teenagers (of course I'm only generalizing here) who joke around about it, "Oh she's anorexic!" and all that. I wonder, do they even know what anorexia or an eating disorder is?

    I'm sorry you have gone through that, but I think now that you have gone through it, it will definitely give you a backbone in life :)
    I, too, loved this book so much -- powerful and so wonderfully written. I think the truth is, most girls have some sort of a body issue/complain about themselves. Who doesn't? So this book is definitely very easy to relate to. By the end of the book, it really affected me a lot, and I was trying hard not to cry. Truthfully also, I liked this a lot better than Speak by the same author. That's just me :)

    Wonderful review. These are the kinds I like to read. It's different, and thought-provoking, and not like the usual ones most (including me) tend to write.

  7. I've struggled with major body issues and food issues as well. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I know how difficult it can be. Thankfully, I'm doing a lot better now and I hope you are too. :)

    This book was fantastic. I really appreciate Laurie Halse Anderson not being afraid to go there. I think she approached the topic at hand very well. Not to mention, her writing is gorgeous.

  8. Melissa, thanks for your honesty! It's like class when a teacher says that if anyone has a question they should ask it because chances are other people have it to, but no one speaks up. I think eating disorders are like that to.. and since I'm hiding behind the veil of the internet I'll be completely honest here and admit I struggled with an eating disorder for around 6 years off and on, I don't think its a struggle you ever stop struggling with.

    Because of this, I have no desire to read this book, I think it would be to raw for me to experience reading it, having that been said I'm soo glad you came forward and admitted your personal struggles and gave an honest review! Thanks! :)

  9. I have had my eye on this book for a while. Thank you for sharing your own struggle, Melissa. And the fact that this novel rang true for you means a lot.

  10. Wow, great review. This really looks like an important book, especially for teens or anyone going through this problem. It might be great for family members as well to bring a bit more understanding. Thanks!

  11. Amazing review Melissa, it must have taken a lot of courage not only to talk about the problems you had with an eating disorder but also to read such a realistic book that must have brought a lot of feelings back for you. I've never suffered with this issue myself but I admire you for getting through this & coming out the other side. I think I'm going to have to read this book so thanks for the recommendation & for your honesty

  12. Wow, I'm glad this book resonated with you so much. And though I've never actually gone through eating disorders, I absolutely LOVED Wintergirls too. In the end, I'm still not sure I like Lia, but I got. it. If that makes sense. Wintergirls was just stunning. :)

  13. now this is a book i will read. for sure. how'd you feel after you read it?

  14. I've heard so many good things about this book. But I'm so hesitant to read it. But your review has made me a little bit hesitant.

  15. Very powerful author - one of the best books I read this year. I couldn't put it down. It had huge emotional pull and was beautifully written. This one made me cry.

  16. I have to agree, the writing in this story is powerful. I really don't know how LHA does it, because she really knows how to grasp a situation, a character, and make it real. Great review, Melissa :)

  17. I read and reviewed this one a little while ago, and I am convinced LHA does not know how to write a bad book. This is one of the most powerful/impactful books I've read in a long time. It's also one of the books with the most honest and heart wrenching looks into an eating disorder.
    One of my favorite lines is when Lia says "Zero in tennis is love. I finally get it." I love that whole paragraph, but that line is one that I think clearly identifies a lot about the root of an eating disorder.
    I imagine this must have been a hard book to read. Thanks for your honesty. Great review. (I know everyone tends to say that, but seriously... I mean it!)


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