Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson



Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published in: 2009
Pages: 278
Genres: realistic fiction, contemporary fiction, mental health/mental illness


“In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores a girl’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

“Dead 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 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. 

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.”

-from Goodreads

My Review

Lia and Cassie were best friends. Both struggling with eating disorders, they competed with each other to see who could be the skinniest. Now Cassie’s dead and Lia’s still struggling with anorexia. A few days after Cassie dies, Lia starts to feel haunted by Cassie’s ghost. Wintergirls is about Lia’s struggle with anorexia, self harm, and the events that lead to her recovery.

Lia was an okay character. She was annoying in some parts. For the majority of the book, she insisted that she didn’t have a problem and didn’t need help. This made me wish I could reach into the book and convince her she did. But she was a realistic character. I felt she was a good portrayal of a teen girl struggling with anorexia.

The plot of Wintergirls was good. It was very realistic and did not hide what the realities of having an eating disorder. It didn’t romanticize or glamourize it at all. Some scenes were gross, like the ones where she cut herself, and some were kind of creepy, like several of the ones where she saw Cassie’s ghost.

The formatting of the book was different. The chapters were numbed like 001.00, 002.00, 003.00, etc. instead of 1, 2, 3, etc. It took me awhile to figure out what they mean. I finally came to the conclusion that it’s supposed to be like Lia’s weight since that’s the formatting she uses when she measures her weight. Also some words and phrases were crossed out. I think this was supposed to show the thoughts Lia wouldn’t allow herself to have or felt she shouldn’t have. There were also a few phrases that were repeated several times.

I felt that Lia’s persistence that she didn’t have a problem was dragged on too long. For the majority of the book, the same struggle was repeated over and over. There was Lia’s struggle with herself to not eat. And then there was her struggle with her parents to convince them that she ate or didn’t need to eat when they tried to get her to eat. I know this is realistic and people can be in denial for a long time, but it got boring after awhile. It was only in the last few chapters that she finally admitted she had a problem and wanted help. I think I would’ve liked this book better if there was more about Lia’s treatment and recovery.

The parts with Cassie’s ghost were confusing. I was never sure whether Lia was just imagining Cassie’s ghost or she really did appear. I couldn’t find anything in the book to confirm it either way. Those scenes were kind of weird and creepy and I didn’t know what to make of them. I thought they were caused by Lia’s guilt or maybe caused by her malnutrition, but I’m not sure.

Wintergirls took a very realistic look at eating disorders. I recommend it someone wanting to read realistic fiction or a book about eating disorders, self harm, or mental health.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


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