I m surprised there is so little criticism of this book I don t normally write reviews, but I finished the book a couple weeks ago and have been letting my thoughts simmer, unable to just forget it seems to have eaten my review maybe it will be posted in a couple days I decided to look for dissenting opinions on here.4 or 5 stars for great writing Anderson creates a page turner and certainly has an admirable command of language.2 stars for depth.Most articles and even many books about eating disorders focus on the horror and the drama and the hospitalizations and the emaciation of it all, making diseases like anorexia sound like sickly appealing bids for popularity Anderson goes a little beyond that, but not far.I can t really say that anything in this book is wrong The obsessive thoughts and messages running through Lia s head are dead on Her behaviors are textbook, and the degradation of her body is sadly a reality for many We sense that something is not quite right in Lia s world, but Anderson never gives us enough information to speculate as to what s fueling the obsession We see that Lia is grieving, we see that she hates her family, we see that her self esteem is cripplingly low but there s not much to her than that The reader is likely to interpret her feelings as little than ordinary teenage angst when eating disorders are much than that.I hesitate to write this, because there is no one size fits all description of someone with anorexia or bulimia But I do wonder at the stereotypes Anderson chooses to embrace and reject Here s what we know about Cassie she s an over extended people pleaser very involved in her community, but she has low self esteem All of that sounds like textbook bulimia Lia, on the other hand, is rich, unhappy, and the daughter of divorced parents That s about all we know about her outside of her obsession with food and weight loss I seriously reject the notion that only rich girls develop anorexia A stereotype that is commonly true of anorectics, though, is that they are perfectionists, and many are overachievers Lia is none of these things and although those aren t requirements for anorexia, Anderson doesn t give us anything else to go on Lia doesn t care about her grades, doesn t care about pissing people off, doesn t want to go to college, doesn t really do anything or hold any aspirations other than her next goal weight And while eating disorders commonly do reach this life consuming point, we never get a glimpse of what Lia is aside from a series of behaviors and pounds lost To her credit, Anderson includes a paragraph or two describing anxiety I respect her hesitation to avoid spelling out the lesson to be learned or gift wrapping the text But as a writer, Anderson fails to dig The novel is like a circus strange and fascinating to watch, but several steps short of revealing.To be fair, the novel is accurate It just isn t enough I am really amazed by reviewers who say, Wow, now I understand anorexia when Anderson describes only the obsessive thoughts in Lia s head of course we have no idea why or how they got there and the way she behaved in response to those thoughts Readers, whether they know much or little about eating disorders, won t walk away having gained insight than an article on Lindsay Lohan would give them.Anderson notes that she interviewed clinicians and visited pro anorexia websites during her research I just don t feel that that was sufficient People who are pro eating disorders are sure to love this book the way they love Wasted, but unlike Wasted, we see only the train wreck without insight.P.S If I am going to nitpick insignificant details, here they are 1 The police scene is not believable You can access your voice mail from any phone So they for sure would have investigated the messages further.2 The car running out of gas Lia of course drove it on empty for many miles is too much of a forced, obvious metaphor for me, and Anderson seems a little too proud of this contrived feat.3 The relationships are stiff Not stiff the way a real relationship can be, but stiff the way they are written.For real, Anderson is a gifted writer But I think there is to great literature than a captivating narrative. Lia fights a war every day A war with herself A war with food At 95 pounds she still feels fat When she looks in the mirror she sees the pockets of fat hanging on her body Everyone else is just blind Two stays in a treatment facility hasn t cured her it just forced her to develop techniques to survive in a world of food She picks the bruised apples at lunch so she has an excuse to cut some of it off, she sews quarters in the lining of her robe to add weight when she has to stand on the scale in front of her stepmother, and she cuts herself just little cuts in order to let the pain leak out of her body.When Lia learns that Cassie, her best friend, has been found dead in a motel room, maintaining any healthy habit is extremely difficult Not only does she have to listen to her own voice obsessing about every calorie of food she consumes now she has to deal with Cassie making her ghostly appearances and cheering her on and encouraging her to get skinnier so Lia can join Cassie on the other side Lia must decide where she wants to be in the world with the living or stuck in the frozen world where she has trapped herself Laurie Halse Anderson has done it again With this being the tenth anniversary of the release of SPEAK, it is a wonderful time for WINTERGIRLS to debut It is an extremely powerful and honest look at the life of an anorexic girl You will be choked up and at a loss for words by the time you get to the final page. 4.5 Stars This book was a really emotional read for me It s been recommended to me a million times over and I m so glad I finally picked it up.The writing in this book was incredible Everything flowed together perfectly and it was like reading a masterpiece than just reading a book I m extremely impressed with the way the author was able to capture all of Lia s experiences with the perfect words, words that fit together so flawlessly it s impossible for them to be described any other way.The portrayal of eating disorders in this book is also PHENOMENAL I m truly amazed this isn t an own voices novel with how accurately the author was able to capture the experience of suffering from such a life altering disorder Lia s voice is the voice of an anorexic to a t The anger, the bitterness, the resentment, the cold hearted carelessness was so true, it s almost frighteningI want to eat like a normal person eats, but I need to see my bones or I will hate myself even and I might cut out my heart or take every pill that was ever made This is the reality I struggle to live with every single day and I am so grateful someone was able to capture it so precisely I m also so thankful this book showed the truly horrifying reality of eating disorders This is a fatal illness There are a ton of fictitious works with eating disorders out there, but I don t believe I know of one that incorporates the real consequences of this disorder Cassie s death, especially the cause, was a crucial part of not only the plot of this story, but why I feel this is such an important read There s absolutely NO glorification of this illness, and this novel did a fantastic job at showing how dangerous it can be I can t stress enough how wonderful this representation of EDs was to me and how grateful I am this book exists.The only issue I have with this book is a personal one, and that is how many flashbacks were included In the beginning of the book, I felt every 5 or so pages I was reading another flashback, which is a bit excessive for my reading tastes I understand flashbacks are sometimes necessary to fully tell a story, as they are in this novel as well I just personally prefer novels focused in the present, and I felt the first half of the book relied very heavily on flashbacks I wasn t too keen on reading.Luckily, the book really picked up for me in the second half We shy away from the past and move into the approaching end to the story, which was really amazing This is where we truly see the raw emotion and authenticity of Lia s character how her illness really affects her The second half of this book is where I feel it really flourishes and develops into the extremely powerful novel that it is If it has one final flaw, the ending felt slightly abrupt and I would have loved to see how things progresses from where we end, but I understand the significance of the point the book ended at, so either way, I m satisfied.Overall, I really loved this book I seriously felt identified and really saw myself in Lia, which I am inherently grateful for I do agree with the endless trigger warnings placed on this novel because like many great mental health novels, the content is so authentic, it may be harmful than helpful But if you are in a healthy mindset and looking to either learn about eating disorders or relate to a book based off of your own experiences, Wintergirls is at the top of my recommendations list. Who exactly are the Wintergirls They are Lia and Cassie Cassie is a pretty girl who started battling bulimia at a very young age, and at the beginning of our story was found dead in a motel room Lia is her former best friend who is still battling anorexia, and has to deal with getting weighed weekly by her well meaning step mother, and also has the guilt constantly in her mind knowing that Cassie had called her 35 times Right before she died The details of her death have not yet been released, but as Lia goes to the wake and funeral she is reminded of her once strong, but toxic friendship with Cassie As the story progresses Lia is left to wonder a few things How did Cassie actually die Could she have saved her if she answered the phone This was a haunting story that discussed, in disturbing detail, how it feels to be trapped inside your own mind Lea doesn t really see food as food She sees a scrambled egg as yellow or 71 for the calories it contains Wintergirls provides an in depth look into eating disorders, and it does not hold back or sugar coat anything The emotional and physical aspects of both diseases are explored in such an amazing way You see the story unfold, and you know that the author is trying to show the horrors of eating disorders, but the book never feels preachy The parents concerns even come out in a way where you understand them, and not resent them as being simply annoying parents Lia s protests don t make you feel like she is being a typical rebellious teen, either We are inside her head hearing the inner monolog, and I found this fascinating to read about A complaint that I have seen about this book is the fact that the author never really explains what has caused Lia to be the way that she is For me that wasn t an issue, however, because I saw her as a person with serious mental issues, and honestly sometimes there is no good reason for demons to haunt us If the author went another way and made Lia a character who was abused or mistreated simply to give her areasonto hate her life this story would have been less unique in my opinion.I loved this author s writing style She kind of has a Chuck Palahnuik feel with the repetitions, and vivid, weird descriptions She used several tools such as the strike out, repetitions and numbers, which I have seen some people say were distracting, but they didn t really bother me As you know from my Shatter Me review these kinds of things can really annoy me if they are overused, but I think in this story they were okay used in moderation and never really made me lose focus on the plot.For a story about such a depressing subject the book didn t make me feel very depressed Yes, I felt bad for Lia, and her everyday struggles, but overall I kept hope that she would eventually get recovered It made me think back to high school and remember friendships I had that may have not been the healthiest friendships, but they still in some way helped me to be the person I am today This is a book I won t soon forget The absolute only thing I didn t like about this book was contained in the ending It s not really a spoiler, but since it s at the end I will put it here view spoiler The ghost parts at the end and the hallucinations were the only thing I didn t like They made everything in a realistic book seem kind of fake, and sometimes when Lia was hallucinating it was hard to know right away that that was what was going on This is only a minor issue in the book, and may not even bother other people at all hide spoiler Laurie Halse Anderson sinks her teeth into writes about eating disorders in this one She distracts from the too familiar story and flat characters uses lots of clever formatting, including numbers tiny text three guessesThis could have been a good book if Anderson had spent less time being clever and time creating solid characters that would have strengthened a story that s been told plenty of times before. I initially found this book to be absolutely repulsive the narrative was suffused with this sense that something was hideously wrong, and the devices that Anderson was using to describe narrator Lia s reality hinted at a disturbing mania As it turns out, this is exactly right Lia s sense of self was damaged even before her former best friend Cassie died alone and in pain Their partnership was a deathly one both girls aspired to be the skinniest as they struggled to grasp their way into adolescence, both traumatized by events from the past Lia s choice was starvation Cassie s was purging Now that Lia is left to pursue the goal alone, ghosts rise up unbidden and voices haunt her days and nights The loudest and most horrific is, of course, Cassie reminding her that they have a pact and that she is waiting for Lia between the veil of this world and the next.Anderson does an incredible job of portraying mental illness and eating disorders, opening a door for readers into the inner hell of sufferers. ariel says everyone loves this book, and that s probably true, these girls today are probably super drawn to this kind of story it s not bad, i just already have a favorite teen problem novel about anorexia, one that doesn t have the voice of this narrator, who was so immersed in her dreamworld, she frequently spoke in this forced poetic voice that i found distracting used to be that my whole body was my canvas hot cuts lick my ribs, ladder rungs climbing my arms, thick milkweed stalks shooting up my thighs when i moved to jenniferland, my father made one condition a daughter who forgets how to eat, well that was bad, but it was just a phase and i was over it but a daughter who opens her own skin bag, wanting to let her shell fall to the ground so she can dance that was just sick my hands read a braille map hewn from bone, starting with my hollow breasts threaded with blue vein rivers thick with ice i count my ribs like rosary beads, muttering incantations, fingers curling under the bony cage they can almost touch what s hiding inside for me, that voice gets old pretty quick and the constant crossouts not pictured it stands out and makes the layout eye catching, but not in a positive way, to my elderly eye.i honestly don t understand anorexia me, i have no discipline i lack the amount of self control it takes to not eat the entire pint of ice cream and even with all of the political social pressure, i lack the interest willpower to stop eating fuzzy baby animals so the rigorous scrutiny of everything that passes the lips of the anorectic, the obsessing and calorie memorizing and constant vigilance shit, i m in grad school, i don t need anything else to think about, for reals why can t these girls channel this energy into something awesome, like painting or science and bridge building i know it is complicated than all that, but it just seems exhausting and trouble than it is worth this put a nice twist on the teenorexia novel the way it takes it a step further and really plays upon the character s perceived culpability in the death of her best friend, which is of course a factor in her own illness, but is also a whole other potential novel so i liked the layering of two different enmeshed problems i appreciated its ambition, but ultimately i prefer my old tried and true book from my junior high be aware fair i want to like her books so much, and there are still three i plan to read, but so far, the two i have read have seemed like books teen girls would really respond to, but i just can t get into but greg sheesh speak is like his all time favorite he is such a girl but not a little gollum girl I ship this book Ship Ship Ship WAIT.I MEAN CAN YOU SHIP BOOKS Before I go further, before I m made out to be insensitive, these are things you need to know.1 YOU MIGHT NOT GET IT BUT2 WHAT S MORE I M MOSTLY LIKE 3 TO THOSE WHO STICK AROUND LOOKING TO FIX MY PROBLEM YOU NEVER LEARNNow that that s out of the way STORY LINEDead girl walking , the boys say in the halls Tell us your secret , the girls whisper, one toilet to another.I am that girl.I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame. Lia is that girl. She has to be the skinniest of them all, and she ll hurt her body in all the ways possible just to wear that skinny crown She looks at food and all she sees are numbers Calories and numbers, numbers and calories Counting and starving are two of the things she shares with her best friend, together they re the Wintergirls. But Lia s better, better at counting, and so much better at starving The story opens with her best friend s sudden death which leaves Lia shackled alone, and lost in the gravity of a disease they once shared.And so Lia tries to find her way MY THOUGHTS Knowing me, you had to know this was coming.MY REACTION AFTER READING THE BLURB IN FACTSo we re almost 30 pages into the book when this conversation takes place.Appetite I seriously don t get it Me I don t get it tooAppetite You know it s stupidMe Very.Appetite What are we having for dinner Me Everything.We both know the only time I become anorexic is after I ve eaten to my gluttonous content and then eaten some just to convince myself that I shouldn t eat some But we don t quit We don t quit because we do want to get it.About 50 pages later, I can t help it, I get so frustrated with Lia and I just have to say itAND THEN I ASK I m almost ready to give up when it happens, almost 200 pages into the book, I believe Somehow my appetite falls along the way or maybe I do the deafened part of me And finally I don t empathize I don t sympathize I don t even try to justify I just believeLia made me see and believe in the gravity of her disorder. I believe in the power of lack of will power and in the debilitating, unrelenting voices which threaten to drown out everything else, poisoning and weakening your resolve as they echo and bounce around in your head I believe in the surprising and occasional comfort the ground offers, deceiving you into never finding your feet and rising up again That s just it, Lia made me believe in her story And finally I found myself yelling You can do it You can do it, Lia You can Don t listen to those voices saying you can t Don t let them eat you up Don t let them take what s left of you.Lia just grew so much So freaking much. Funny thing is while I was reading, I couldn t see it, I didn t notice the little shifts, the little shaky steps she took towards becoming free I guess it s this thing where we always expect to see the change when it happens, for it to be some great defining moment something we can pinpoint and link a memory to But it wasn t so, and It isn t always so It s possible people won t get this book the way I do, not everyone will understand Lia I didn t, not at first Actually not at all But the truth of her story, the moral of it, is such an urgent and imparting one The topic of anorexia is not something I really thought I d ever read about Coupled with loss, honestly it s not something to pick up lightly But I loved this story all the for it s dark and somber quality I ll believe anyone who says the writing isn t spectacular or magnificent, or in contrasting view, may be it s overly poetic I ll concur and go right ahead and nod if someone said parts of this book were annoying and the plot twist wasn t hair raising and jaw dropping enough But I ll answer right back and say This isn t meant to entertain you, it s meant to bring you right back down to earth, and remind you that there are some things that are beyond our understanding And that s okay But the thing is to listen Even if that s the only thing you can do, listen and not judge what you can t understand QUOTES I ABSOLUTELY LOVEDThere is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever There are only small steps upward an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn t matter any I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds Sometimes in smiles In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them We haunt ourselves Do I want to die from the inside out or the outside in I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my worldI spun out of control Eating was hard Breathing was hard Living was hardest.I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulnessSomehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever There are only small steps upward an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn t matter any.I am thawing Lia I failed eating, failed drinking, failed not cutting myself into shreds Failed friendship Failed sisterhood and daughterhood Failed mirrors and scales and phone calls Good thing I m stable Why You want to know why Step into a tanning booth and fry yourself for two or three days After your skin bubbles and peels off, roll in coarse salt, then pull on long underwear woven from spun glass and razor wire Over that goes your regular clothes, as long as they are tight.Smoke gunpowder and go to school to jump through hoops, sit up and beg, and roll over on command Listen to the whispers that curl into your head at night, calling you ugly and fat and stupid and bitch and whore and worst of all, a disappointment Puke and starve and cut and drink because you don t want to feel any of this Puke and starve and drink and cut because you need the anesthetic and it works For a while But then the anesthetic turns into poison and by then it s too late because you are mainlining it now, straight into your soul It is rotting you and you can t stop.Look in a mirror and find a ghost Hear every heartbeat scream that everysinglething is wrong with you Why is the wrong question.Ask Why not Lia Why are you being so mean Friends tell friends the truth yeah, but not to hurt, to help I want to go to sleep and not wake up, but I don t want to die I want to eat like a normal person eats, but I need to see my bones or I will hate myself even and I might cut my heart out or take every pill that was ever made For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this book, as Laurie and I share a publisher It is so, so good The voice is unique, the style like a puzzle and a poem, all at once Highly recommended I think it will be HUGE with teenage girls. Dead Girl Walking, The Boys Say In The Halls Tell Us Your Secret, The Girls Whisper, One Toilet To AnotherI Am That GirlI Am The Space Between My Thighs, Daylight Shining ThroughI Am The Bones They Want, Wired On A Porcelain Frame 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
bio stuff Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults Combined, her books have sold than 8 million copies Her new book, SHOUT, a memoir in verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesta for the MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for seven consecutive weeks.Laurie has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award three times Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was short listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal Laurie was selected by the American Library Association for the 2009 Margaret A Edwards Award and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English.In addition to combating censorship, Laurie regularly speaks about the need for diversity in publishing and is a member of RAINN s National Leadership Council She lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys cheesesteaks while she writes Find out about Laurie by following her on Twitter at halseanderson, Instagram at halseanderson, and Facebook at lauriehalseanderson, or by visiting her website, madwomanintheforest.com.
- 278 pages
- Laurie Halse Anderson
- 24 March 2018 Laurie Halse Anderson