Book Blog: Wintergirls
Book: Laurie Halse Anderson. Wintergirls. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 2009.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Lia is a nineteen year old girl struggling with the death of her best friend Cassie. She also has been haunted with anorexia nervosa and cutting. She is trapped deep inside a world that she can’t seem to escape from. Lia is frequently visited by Cassie’s ghost, who is constantly calling her to the afterlife. Can Lia battle her demons and makes it out of this time of desperation?
Eating disorders play a major role in Wintergirls. This novel depicts an extreme case of anorexia nervosa through Lia and bulimia through Cassie. Their friendship has flourished into one that aided in the creation of two young girls who are fighting for their lives. Wintergirls, gives the reader a glimpse into the daily struggles she faced and the “support” group she communicated with online. This honest description of the reality of what it is like to live with an eating disorder is shown very clearly and unlike any other novel I have read.
Self Image is a theme addressed in the entirety of the novel. Lia battles with her self-image for the entirety of the novel. She is trying to force her body into the image that she sees as attractive. The pressure that she feels to be thin is a reality that many young girls are faced with every day. Lia has an unrealistic view of how she really looks. Nothing she does is ever good enough; she can never take enough steps on the treadmill. Lia is never convinced that she is thin enough. Skinny is not enough; she needs to be skin in bones. Society as a whole plays a large role in what places Lia into this situation. She lives in a world of stick thin models and air brushed role models. The expectations are too great for her to healthily deal with.
This novel is much more realistic than other novels they may have read. A lesson to prepare the students for this novel will be extremely important. I would pair this novel with a research paper about an eating disorder of their choice. Providing students with the opportunity to be exposed to situations similar to those of the characters in Wintergirls, will allow them to be prepared for the harsh truths they will discover in the novel. After reading this novel, I will provide the students with resources and contacts of who they can speak with if they have anything they want to talk about. It is critical to give the students guidance about how they can act/respond if that are aware of a similar situation or are currently struggling with a problem that we have discussed.
I have read several novels about young woman who have faced challenges with their bodies. This real, dramatic, and eye opening story gave me a description of the disease that I have never seen before. This showed me the harsh realities that some young girls can be pushed into when they feel so horribly about their bodies. Not only do they suffer physically, but they suffer emotionally as well. It was extremely beneficial to read this book because of its unique way of discussing the topic.
Wintergirls, has earned a number of great reviews. Many people praise the novel for its raw descriptions and its lack of covering up the gruesome details of the life a woman with anorexia. “This intoxicating story for teenagers – of a girl driven to self-loathing by a friend’s suicide – is more powerful than most adult fiction,” stated Melvin Burgess for The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jan/30/wintergirls-laurie-halse-anderson-review Others talk about the content of the novel. “In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.” http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5152478-wintergirls