As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

June 5, 2011

WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2009

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss - her life - and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all - hope. (Amazon)

Review by Amy Finnegan - Writer, Reader, Bookshop Talk Host

As the cover portrays perfectly, this novel is . . . chilling. One of my closest friends lost her battle to an eating disorder five years ago, and Anderson hits the nail on the head with the emotions that my friend went through - those that I understood, anyway. And the emotions that I never did come to understand now make better sense to me. 

This is by no means a light, enjoyable read, but it's definitely an important addition to YA literature. It reminded me a bit of Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn - a YA novel from a few years back where the 
POV character was a hot-tempered girlfriend abuser. The stories as far as plot and character go aren't comparable at all, but rather the way they both made me feel as a reader: uncomfortable to be inside this person's head, wishing I could talk sense into him/her. But I mean that in a good way. I was very much attached to both characters, desperate for them to fight their demons.

Like most of Laurie Halse Anderson's novels, WINTERGIRLS is very cognitive; three-quarters of the book is made up of Lia's thoughts. But within those haunted thoughts, she fights her battle—so detailed that it can definitely be disturbing—and though at many times I couldn’t figure out why she would be thinking such crazy things, as the story progresses, those thoughts come together to show how this ruthless disease has truly distorted reality for Lia, why her ghosts are so much easier to listen to than to fight.

I highly recommend this novel for mature teen readers, and especially to anyone who has teen daughters, works with teens, or writes YA lit. WINTERGIRLS is certainly one of the most convincing, powerful, teen "problem" novels I've ever read.

Market: Young Adult
Language: Moderate
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Moderate (self-induced destruction)
Mature Themes: depression, death, eating disorders, drug abuse, cutting

Book formats:

To learn more about the author, visit: Laurie Halse Anderson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've picked up this book a dozen times at bookstores and at the library, but I haven't read it yet! Based on your review, I think I'd better read it. It sounds like one of those essential, but perhaps difficult to read books.