Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Reading Level:: Young Adult
Pages: 282
Publisher: March 19th 2009 by Viking Juvenile

    "...The second time they admitted me,
    ... the second time they locked me up, I was bad, bad, bad. My parental units were frowny mad, mad, mad. Dead, rotting daughters leave a bad smell that won't come out no matter how hard the cleaning lady scrubs. My parents bounced the blame back and forth, bouncing Lia bean, sick starving Lia bean, what is wrong with her, it's all you faultfaultfault.
     My mother wanted to be the boss, wanted to be Dr. Marrigan instead of Sick Lia's Mom. That didn't work. The clinic docs dug a moat around me and said she could not swim across it, she had to wait until she was invited to cross the drawbridge. After that, she missed a couple of family therapy sessions. She tried to explain why, but my ears were stuffed with bread and pasta and milk shakes."

There are ghost stories, filled with wispy Caspers that go "OoOOooO" in dark creepy attics. There are the ghost stories that involve hauntings, with floor boards that creek in what was once a nursery, a rocking chair that moves on it's own. There's tales of headless spirits and hooks that hang from car door handles, stories like the ones you'd tell around the fire. They may frighten, they may haunt but there by the light of the fire, or the nightlight, you are safe and they are only what they are. Stories.

What about the ghosts that don't fade away when you turn on the light? What about the ones they live right there inside of you, invading your every thought, critiquing your every move, constantly, incessantly telling you that you are nothing.

Lia has these ghosts, or rather, the ghosts have Lia, and her ghosts want her to dwindle away until she is gone. The ghosts want Lia to starve herself until she's 100lbs, 95lbs, 90lbs, 85lbs, down, down until she disappears, and they do it with the face of her best friend, Cassie, who has just died. Died alone, in a motel room, after thirty-three calls to Lia, who never answered.

I read this due to the extraordinary writing ability that Anderson displayed in Speak, which is exemplary and the eloquence and impact of her writing was just as prevalent in this novel. Anderson's writing takes pot shots at the heart, her aim is true and she makes a clean kill. This book hurt to read. I think she quite literally writes the book on heartache.

That said, I did not like this story. The subject at hand is eating disorders and I went into it with a wary eye because it's a topic I have little knowledge about. I was OK with this until the story moved into the realm of cutting and I have nothing in me that compels me to try to understand or care about a person who does this. It hardened my heart towards Lia and after a bit, when I realized that she neither wanted to live, nor die, just selfishly taking up space, hurting those around her far more than she hurts herself, I had zero sympathy for her.

That sounds harsh. I know. I know that this condition exists and I know it's a sickness like any other and I'm fine with that part. But the cutting. Nope. I see people everyday that want to live and can't. Lia and her issue have no place in my heart. Lia wasn't even contemplating suicide, she wanted nothing.

The relationship with her parents, yeah, I can see how it can fuel her warped sense of self but I didn't get her friendship with Cassie, or their oath. Two best friends vowing to be the thinnest person in school? Ummmm.... How did Cassie's eating disorder, that existed before Lia's magically jump onto Lia? How did Cassie's parents neglect her, thereby contributing to her disease? Never saw it. Don't get it. Can't get there. Won't.

1 thoughts?:

pirate penguin May 3, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

I'm sorry this one fell a bit flat for you. It seems like Lia isn't the most rational character... I'll be aware of this when I pick Wintergirls up (at some point... like when my TBR pile shrinks down. *stares at her pile of books and sighs*) Have you read Twisted? I really enjoyed that one and the MC's actions and thoughts are completely understandable. It's also thought-provoking but that's to be expected when it comes to Laurie Halse Anderson. :3

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