Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September's Random Read Review - Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

5152478Title: Wintergirls 
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
 Release Date: February 23, 2010 
Publisher: Penguin USA  
Source: Library 
Purchase: Amazon  / The Book Depository

“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.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Wintergirls was my Random Read pick for September. I had numerous comments left on that post about what an amazing book this is, or how amazing the author is. So, though I was already excited to begin this novel, that excitement was further hyped by all the comments left by other readers about how much I would enjoy this.

It is clear by my star rating that I loved it. I don't give out 5 stars often, but this book took me on a 2 hour rollercoaster ride. I didn't eat, drink or think of basic bodily functions the morning I began to read this (probably more information than you need to know but very indicative of how insanely engaging this story was). Two hours is a record reading time frame, even for someone that can read as much and as fast as I do.

Why was this so enthralling?

These girls are damaged.

Damaged in a horrible way.

To deprive their bodies of the necessary fuel to survive and function. And what is more saddening, is how they can effectively battle their  own brains and basic instincts of survival to provide that necessary sustenance.

I can't even fathom such an existence. Or how someone can rationalize inflicting such damage on themselves.

And yet, this type of behavior is, sadly, not that rare in a society that holds being skinny in such high regards.  It's hard to believe people go through such extents to reach these goals, but I imagine that what this novel described is not far off the mark for the extreme cases.

What was most difficult and interesting for me as a reader, was to be given access to the inner most thoughts of a young girl, and she goes through life, day by day, counting calories, fighting with her hunger, or inflicting pain on herself as punishment or release of inner pain.  Not to mention one of the most unhealthy friendships I have ever encountered in YA contemporary fiction, where even in and after death, Cassie can affect Lia's decisions so detrimentally.  Whether only in Lia's mind, or through some supernatural means, it was still heartbreaking to read.  For such a young girl to be so urgently pulled towards death, when there is so much life left to live... it really brought tears to my eyes.

It was an insane, mad finish to the conclusion in the hopes that Lia could, in some way, find her way out of the mad world she lived in.  That she could somehow find enough strength to reach out for help to get herself out of the complicated world she trapped herself in, before it was too late for her too.

This was an incredible novel with very intense subject matter.  Though I found it disturbing, it was no less a phenomenal story that I would never hesitate to recommend to young and older adults alike.  It will leave its mark on you.


Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists.

Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, http://twitter.com/halseanderson and on her blog, http://madwomanintheforest.com/blog/.

Check out Laurie's new website, http://madwomanintheforest.com/

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