Laurie Halse Anderson used her writing format and amazing sense of plot to bring a growing issue to light in her latest title Wintergirls. Lia and Cassie are friends, they are Wintergirls, they want to see which of them can get so skinny that they are hovering in the borderlands, the place between life and death. Cassie is bulimic while Lia chooses the anorexic route. The story follows Lia through her disease after Cassie dies from her disease. Lia sees poison in food everywhere, Cassie’s ghost is there and is very supportive, she wants Lia and her to be back together again. Lia struggles with her hunger, she cuts to make the pangs stop. She eats just barely enough to get by, she doesn’t want another car accident. Cassie says Lia won the bet, she is the real Wintergirl, at 85 pounds and walking, talking, breathing, she is the one in the borderlands. Not dead but not really alive.
I really can’t say much more about the plot without giving it all away. Anderson highlights a growing disease in our society, she packs her book with loads of information, things I had no clue about only because I never have had an eating disorder. I had no clue our teens could be so deceptive in hiding the fact they are throwing up or not eating at all. I am happy I read this book, I think it gave me so much insight on how these girls must feel. I have a new sympathy for people with eating disorders and I think with this book I would be able to notice the signs early on with my children. Anderson doesn’t blame the media for the skinny thin models and rockers. She treats the disease as what it is, a disease, mostly mental causing physical side effects.
For me as a Mom, and pregnant with a second this book was even more ‘bone chilling’ than the latest psycho murder killer novel. Lia’s character for me was absolutely heartbreaking. I noticed her frequent use of Proana(pro anorexic) and Promia(pro bulimia) websites, I was on a diet about two years ago and came across a Proana website looking for a diet soup recipe. Anderson hit the nail on the head with the posts Lia was reading on these sites. I don’t know how we haven’t as a society banned these types of websites, I know freedom of speech but when is teaching young girls how to kill themselves freedom and not treason?
Anderson also used a unique printing style in this novel. Strike through words and sentences, blank pages that create the most thrilling plot seem almost unbearable, different fonts for websites and thoughts. I highly recommend any teen or any woman reading this book. It is an amazing look inside the life of a girl slowly committing suicide and hiding it from her family. Maybe this book will scare some young girls out of doing this to themselves.
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