Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: March 19, 2009 by Viking Juvenile
Genre: Realistic YA, Drama
Lia and Cassie are wintergirls: not dead, but not fully alive; suspended somewhere between reality and a nightmarish heaven. They bet each other to become the skinniest girl in school. Lia's in the lead, she's always been in the lead because of her strong, strong, strong willpower. Cassie never was as strong as her. Lia knows this for a fact when she discovers that Cassie has died in a bulimic fit.
Lia's at 99 pounds when things start going from bad to worse. Her family's hounding her about bringing her weight up, and of course it doesn't help that Cassie comes back to haunt her. The voices and the horrible, horrible ghosts are taking their toll on tiny, porcelain doll Lia.
Will she shatter before she can finally be real?
Hail, the great and mighty Laurie! Hail before one of the greatest YA authors the world has ever known! Like, seriously; have you ever read Wintergirls? Or Speak? I mean, DAY-am, this girl can write. Her metaphors are always so poetic and beautiful, yet still manage to remain spot-on. At least, I think it's spot-on. I'm not anorexic, so I wouldn't know (hell naw, I ain't givin' up my beloved chocolate to be skinny; bring on the rolls of fat!) She gives her characters real faults. In a lot of the crappy YA that I've read, the heroine's main fault is "Oh, I'm so clumsy." Or, "Oh, I don't think I'm pretty at all, boo-hoo, low self-esteem." (<--when, in fact, they are actually GOERGEOUS and only their love interest seems to have the capability to point it out to her, after which the heroine has a breakdown/meltdown/epiphany about how the outside doesn't matter and we all have the same beautiful and squeaky clean insides). But Lia? She's anorexic. She is the poster-child for extremely severe anorexia and it's side effects. And she sees ghosts. No, not like a Sixth Sense type thing, or a schizophrenia episode either. When Cassie dies, Lia is perpetually haunted by her lingering spirit. I don't know if it's delusional manifestions of that starved and half-dead brain in Lia's noggin, or Cassie really is being clingy and metaphorically super-glueing herself to her puking buddy. Probably both.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think Lia is an endearing and lovable character. In fact, it's just the opposite; she's stubborn, idiotic, pig-headed, delusional, stupid, and masochistic. But at least she has a legit reason for it. She was teased by her peers for a bit when she was a kid, and the whispers and voices stuck with her for years and never left her side. They're always there whenever she decides to take a bite of something of substantial caloric weight. They quietly gnawed at her until she had such a messed up view of herself she wouldn't be satisfied until the scale hit 0. Whereas all these other characters I've read have low self-esteem and distorted body image....why? I'll tell you why. The authors of those books wanted an insecure character for their book, but they wanted some epic, paranormal romance plot with DANGER! and ACTION! and ADVENTURE! and there's just no time and space to deal with the puny character's personal issues. Sorry. Maybe in the sequel.
But enough bashing on other, unnamed novels that you may or may not have read. Wintergirls is a fantastic book, as I'm sure just about everything else of Laurie's is. It's not perfect; there was a character called Elijah who was basically like J.D. from Thelma & Louise. He's too good to be true, they're gonna live happily ever after together, and POOF! BAM! Steals your money and gets the hell outta dodge to avoid the horrific hurricane-from-hell that your emotional instability is bound to bring on. His character was too flat and irrelevent to the story; that's what I felt at least. He was unecessary.
Additionally, the ending was a bit too...ending-ish for me. You know when you're reading a book, and maybe 3 chapters from the end, the writing style sort of shifts and the main character is speaking with a, I don't know, a finality of a kind? Everything becomes much more formal, and there's some "life lesson" included at the end. You know what I'm talking about, right? Right? RIGHT!?! No...? Ohhhhh, fiiiine.
Anywho, my general view of the book is: AWESOME! STUNNING! SPECTACULAR! ALGEBRAIC! (<--no, I did not just say that) It has a few faults, as all truly great novels do, but don't let that stop you from reading it! No, I beg of you, read it, read it, read it!!:) -Hannah
I've rated Wintergirls: