Laurie Halse Anderson Wintergirls. New York: Penguin Group. 2009.


Genre: Realistic fiction.


Audience: High School


Read Aloud: Read Aloud


Summary: Cassie, Lia’s best friend, dies from complications caused from her disorder of bulimia. When both of them were young they made a pact to be the skinniest girls in school. Lia is struggling with anorexia. Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s journey through anorexia as well as how she is able to cope with the tragic death of her best friend Cassie.


Themes: Eating disorders. This really gets to a good point of telling what teenagers go through. How she added up all the calories in her head all the time, I know I’m guilty of doing that every once in a while too. Teenagers struggle with body image; especially with how the media portrays people to look now adays. On the back of the book one of the reviews was “By reading this it can save your life.” And, I think this is a very important read for students to read. Because in one way or another someone is either unhappy with how they do look and/or are doing something drastic to change their appearance.


Rejection. Lia feels rejected. Both by her family and friends. She lost Cassie a long time ago as a best friend and since then has not recovered from that in my opinion. Also, her parents are going through a divorce and Lia has never really gotten a chance to deal with it. She said right as she was starting to deal with the whole idea of her parents being separated, her father got remarried. The only person she feels like she has in her life is her younger step sister, Emma. Lia basically considers Emma her actual sister though.


Love yourself. Everyone at one point or another has heard the phrase “Love the skin your In.” Or, “In order to love someone else, you have to love yourself first.” Lia almost killed herself in front of Emma, that was not love. She was only thinking of herself at the time and not the good of her younger sister. Emma will be stuck with that image for the rest of her life. But, once Lia goes into recovery you can kind of tell she is starting to love herself more and more every single day. Instead of focusing on the other peoples’ problems in recovery, she deals with her own. She starts to measure days in smiles she said. Which as corny as it sounds, is awesome because when in this book have we seen Lia really smile? Not often.


Reactions: The book obviously was intense. But, it bought up some good issues. I know in high school no one likes their body. At least from my experience that is how I feel. When Lia came to the realization that if she got to 70lbs, she’d want 65; and, so on and so forth. That is the realization when it comes to girls and guys these days. They have to keep dropping weight and more weight; nothing is ever good enough. People may think eating problems are prevalent in just girls; but, they aren’t. Looking back to high school, my brothers wrestled. I was at practice every day with them helping out because I was the manager. I saw my brothers basically starve themselves, and I thought it was normal. My one brother lost 8lbs on a twenty minute drive to a wrestling meet one time. Believe it or not- he did it. He obviously was loaded in every sweater and pants he could find, heat on full blast, did not eat the entire day, and was working out profusely on the bus to drop the weight. He dropped the pounds, but lost his match because he had no energy left in him. I felt so bad for him. My other brother would become so skinny that you could literally see his cheek bones. I thought it was just normal because they had to meet a certain weight class in order to wrestle on the varsity squad. And, if you didn’t make it you’d basically get your ass yelled at by the coaches and you were definitely not wrestling that meet. I never really realized in high school how unhealthy some of the things my brothers did to maintain weight. It is scary and I do think this book should be taught because there are so many important eye openers throughout the entire novel.


Connections: There are so many things I can talk about in this book. The one thing that really hit home with me is the weight. I have always struggled mentally with my weight. Even when I was 130lbs way back in the day- I thought I needed less, just like Lia. But, you know I could never have an eating disorder because I just love food too much. Maybe that’s just my problem J But, what really made me connect and realize is to just be happy about yourself. I had surgery on my hip last fall which ended my running career. I was devastated. I was running under 6:00 miles at my other school and had made it to the national meet two consecutive years. And, I was so pumped to keep continuing on my running career in college. I was at a healthy weight in my opinion. Of course I ate like a horse and drank like a fish- but, regardless I was so happy about myself and life. Since last fall I have been struggling with people telling me I need to lose weight. The doctors told me I couldn’t run any more- so I tried to prove them wrong and did a triathlon. Obviously, I got the last joke with that one. And the doctors were right. So, since I can’t run much anymore- it has been difficult to find what I like to do and am actually capable of doing. The hip restricts a lot of my physical exercise. So, I have been kind of eating what I like in proportions. And, when Lia was adding up all those calories- I know I do the exact same. Obviously, 500 calories is like my snack for the day- just kidding- but, I use to obsess over it. And, the past six months or so I have just tried to eat healthy, drink less beer, and be happy about myself. At the end of the book what Lia said really helped a lot. It was something along the lines of measuring yourself on how you feel. I have been doing this a lot. When people ask me how much I weigh or if I have lost weight or whatever I blow it off. As long as I feel good about myself that is all that matters. And, this book was just so important even with me. And, if it was this important to me I think it is going to be just as important to many girls in high school. Trust me- if I ever teach I am teaching this book. And, I will fight to teach it.

Reception: one This reception was interesting because the author also made it a point that she would of liked to see more of the recovery. She states that the end was very quick, which it was. I think if she could of drawn it on a few more chapters as well she would of succeeded entirely with this book.


two This review quickly talks about the book. Who it is for, what it is about, etc. What I did like about this reception is that it talks more about those internet sites that were discussed in class. The pro-anorexia and strength systems that Anderson talks about in her book.


three This is actually one of these websites that people struggling with anorexia go to. It educates them, there are a few forums, and some videos. This seems like it is almost educating these people that they are okay and should turn away from these deadly eating disorders.

four If anything, visit this site. I sat for hours reading this stuff. It is so upsetting- this is actually one of the groups. One girl sounds exactly like Lia in our book. It’s really sad. It is a support group and they write journals, respond to one another as well, and give tips. It was unbelievably shocking.

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One Response to Wintergirls-Maddie

  1. Maddie, I really appreciate that you shared your stores and how they relate to the novel. One of the problems with eating disorders–and even getting people to see they have an eating disorder–is that some of the cultures and subcultures we’re part of perpetuate eating disorders. You talk about your brothers being wrestlers. There are many issues with eating disorders and abusing your body when it comes to wrestling (and not just the sport of wrestling, but it’s a good example) and many people don’t see it because “everyone does it” and it’s part of the culture of the sport.

    You also bring up a good point that many times happens later in life, but for some folks sooner, about the point where you aren’t able to physically do all the things you used to do and so you have to rethink how you deal with health, fitness, food, and life. For some it’s a more drastic realization than others. You give the example of having surgery and so a specific event abruptly ends your career. Sometimes this is more difficult to deal with then just gradually getting older.

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