Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is best known for her insightful and moving novel Speak. It's been ten years since Speak was published and she continues to write books that examine intense issues. Her newest novel comes out this week: Wintergirls.

At night, when everyone else in the house is asleep, Lia escapes to the basement and to the StairMaster, where she puts in four hours of grueling exercise. During the day, she eats only enough food to keep her conscious and able to drive (she crashed her car once, too lightheaded to focus on the road). She meets a goal and then sets a new one: 100 pounds, then 95, then 90. She'll get to 85 because she is in control.

Cassie is Lia's best friend. Unlike Lia, Cassie eats...and then vomits it all back up again. The two girls have gone down a dangerous path, so dangerous that Cassie is now dead. Lia is now alone in her destructive ways.

You'd think that losing your best friend to an eating disorder would make you face your own, but Lia just falls further and further into anorexia. She's even having hallucinations of Cassie coming back from the dead, blaming Lia for her death.

This is a heart-wrenching story about a girl so consumed with her disease that she can't see the people who love her and who want to help her. We probably all know someone like Lia, or Cassie, or maybe you even struggle with food issues yourself (who doesn't?). Laurie Halse Anderson opens the door and lets us into Lia's head, where we can see first-hand the war she wages with herself every day. Highly recommended.

The Wintergirls MySpace page.

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