Fattie Book Review: Wintergirls

Book: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Synopsis Snippet: 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.

The Cast: Everyone is very pale, and starvingly striving for the thinnest they can be.  Not diverse, but intense.

Romance Aspects: This is more about the struggle to love oneself.  No romance to really speak of.

Language: The writing was harsh and beautiful.  We delve into Lia’s story from inside her own head and hear from there the things she can and cannot think/say/feel.

Fat treatment: This is about the crushing despair that can be eating disorders and self-harm.  It could be highly triggering or amazingly hopeful.

Review: This was rough. But, at the same time, one of the most touching and raw books I’ve read in a while.   It is one of the rare books that I had to read (while halfway into a less interesting book no less) all in one sitting. Fabulously written, griping characters and plot evolution, entirely enthralling. I loved reading every despairing moment as we follow Lia through her downward spiral to see if she’s able to become the “real Lia” before she joins her former best friend Cassie in real death.  Be warned, however, that it is a rather dark spiral.  While there are moments of humor scattered throughout, the passage of time brings the reader deeper and deeper into Lia’s pain and it is a rough, emotional, and despairingly brutal ride.

A brilliant look at the obsession with “Thin”, cutting, fears, personal ghosts and done in a way that wouldn’t let me stop reading until I reached the conclusion. Fabulous

Great Quotes: Some awesome tidbits that might get your curiosity going.

“There’s no point in asking why, even though everybody will. I know why. The harder question is ‘why not?’ I can’t believe she ran out of answers before I did.”

“You’re not dead, but you’re not alive, either. You’re a wintergirl, Lia-Lia, caught in between the worlds. You’re a ghost with a beating heart.”

“Here stands a girl clutching a knife. There is grease on the stove, blood in the air, and angry words piled in the corners. We are trained not to see it, not to see any of it.”

“I knew what he wanted to hear. He couldn’t stand me being sick. Nobody can. They only want to hear that you’re healing, you’re in recovery, taking it one day at a time. I you’re locked into sick, you should stop wasting their time and just get dead.”

“Food is life. And that’s the problem. When you’re alive, people can hurt you. It’s easier to crawl into a bone cage or a snowdrift of confusion. It’s easier to lock everybody out. But it’s a lie.”

Final Verdict: This was harsh.  It was beautifully written, and so realistic I could almost taste Lia’s frustration at times.  I will add again that this might be triggering for some.  The story is written from Lia’s head so every mention of food is linked (in parentheses) to its calories.  Every moment the reader is being pulled deeper into the pit that Lia is being devoured by.  It was a really powerful story.  It will certainly not describe every eating disordered self-harming girl.  But it gives a glimpse into one potential “why” (or “why not?”) that could be out there and I think the characters and story really hit the mark.

So, have you read this yet?  Would you now want to? Would you suggest it to someone else?

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4 thoughts on “Fattie Book Review: Wintergirls

  1. I’ve heard a lot of things about this book but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. Your review made me want to read it more though! Is it easily digestible for people that aren’t into reading a lot of YA fiction?

  2. I am a YA fiend, and I love this book! It’s a very vivid reminder of where fatphobia can lead — sometimes to death.

    However, I do have a friend in recovery for anorexia nervosa, and she said she could tell it was written by someone who had never had AN. She didn’t give a lot of detail as to why, but when you have (or have had) a certain condition, I guess you have a radar for who is writing from experience and who isn’t.

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