Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: Wintergirls (Halse Anderson)

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 278
Rating: 5 out of 5
Challenges: YA
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the inside flap): Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way--thin, thinner, thinnest--maybe she'll disappear altogether.

Review: Laurie Halse Anderson has done it again! This book is powerful, heart-wrenching, and beautiful all at once. I didn't even know the term "wintergirls" before I read this book though I knew the book was about a girl with an eating disorder. Anderson gets inside the head of her main characters so well; I feel like I am the girl as I read the book.

As I read this book I thought about the girls in high school and the women in college that had anorexia and bulimia, how sad their eyes always seemed, how worried their friends and families were, and how much I didn't understand what they were doing to themselves. I have issues. I eat more than I should and I certainly don't exercise enough, but I cannot imagine slowly killing myself the way Lia does in this book. She sees it as a means of control, a way of being in charge of herself when she knows she isn't. And not eating seems the best solution. Because no one else can make you eat.

While there is a good size group of supporting characters in this book, they each play a vital role in Lia's life, for good or bad. They are developed enough for us to understand where they are coming from in terms of their behavior, but they do not detract from Lia and her story. And the ending is so good and realistic. A glimmer of hope without the promise of recovery. Anderson did that so well!

What do you think of the Laurie Halse Anderson books that you've read?
Are you as big a fan as I am?

11 comments:

Audrey; (AyC) said...

LHA is one of my absolute favourite YA authors, Speak is definitely top 5-10 fave books ever, and i thought Wintergirls was amazing as well! nice review!

christa @ mental foodie said...

I have no idea what wintergirls mean... but thanks for the review - it sounds like a worthwhile read! I haven't heard of this author before (I haven't read much YA until this year).

"eat more than I should and I certainly don't exercise enough" - I hear ya!!

Staci said...

I too enjoyed this book immensely. What an important topic and it seems that anorexia will never ever go away. She certainly does a wonderful job of creating her characters and most of all making them authentic. I'm a huge fan...HUGE!! In fact, she's my absolute first choice in YA, with Ellen Hopkins right behind her.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Audrey--LHA is amazing! Each of her books that I've read is impressive, with Speak and Wintergirls my top 2. Now I just need to read Chains

Christa--Wintergirls is a term that anorexic girls use about themselves (maybe because they are often cold?). Laurie Halse Anderson is wonderful! Her book Speak is her best and is such an important book.

Staci--I haven't read Ellen Hopkins yet, but she is definitely on my TBR list!

Aths said...

Glad you enjoyed this! I loved Speak, so I will definitely be reading this one as well!

E.J. Stevens said...

Now I really have to read this. Great review!

xx,
E.J
From the Shadows

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--Speak is definitely my favorite Anderson book, but Wintergirls is second.

Helen's Book Blog said...

EJ--Thanks! I can't wait to see what you think of this book. Eating disorders are such an important issue.

Jeanne said...

My daughter summed up LHA's appeal succinctly the other day. She said "you know, I don't like "topic" books, but if you have to read a book about rape, read Speak and if you have to read a book about anorexia, read Wintergirls."

Angie said...

I had never read this author before but I thought wintergirls was fantastic and from the looks of it I have to pick up Speak as well!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Jeanne--Great quote from your daughter! LHA does such a great job of making me feel like I am not reading a "topic book".

Angie--Oh, Laurie Halse Anderson is wonderful YA! I definitely recommend all her books. Speak and Wintergirls are my favorites, but I hear Chains is super good too (it's on my TBR)