Friday, 24 April 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: March 2009
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 278
Format: ARC
Source: from publisher - Penguin

"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.

The first moment I saw Wintergirls, I knew for sure that it would blow me away. Even though I'd never ever read any of Laurie Halse Anderson's works, I was still excited about this one because I'd heard tons of times from others how great she was, and upon coming across the summaries of her books, I felt really attracted to them. And Wintergirls just came up to my expectation. It's so different from other books, in good way, of course.

Eating disorders is something super new to me. I've not experienced such a thing in my life and no one I know or hear of is suffering from anorexia either. Wintergirls led me to a world that I was hardly aware of and I was in awe. In that world, food is forbidden, eating is a sin and being thin is an extreme obsession. Thoroughly exploiting the uses of words and metaphors, Laurie Halse Anderson slowly introduced the darkest sides of a teenager's life whose only desire was to shrink into nothingness. Her writing surprised me because even though everything seemed vague at times, it was real to me as well. On turning page to page readers will feel a kind of chill that only grows stronger and stronger. The mood of this book is not only gloomy, it's more like cold and empty.

Lia is such an intriguing character. She's not someone who you usually find in YA books. She was strange, not one of a kind we can relate or feel close to. Her life was very complicated. Her parents divorced and seemed like their care for her was only for shown; her only bestfriend Cassandra left her, later died alone in a motel aftter trying to get in touch in vain with Lia. Lia never felt alive, never felt worthy and being as thin as possible was the only way for her to consider herself successful.

I had difficulties understanding Lia at first. She really wanted to eat so why not stop counting the calories in the food and enjoy her meals? I didn't see the point of her goal of losing weight at all. Sometimes I was mad and scared of her actions at once, like she was really insane. But as the story went on and the reasons were explained, I found myself sympathy with Lia more and more. She was under so much pressure, she was haunted by Cassandra, by her broken family, by the voices inside her head. What I love best was how Laurie described Lia's emotions. They were so real and flawless that they made me uneasy, trapped and hopeless just like the poor girl.

There's something I'd love to warn you: Wintergirls is not a book for everyone. It's uneasy, sometimes heavy and creepy that you want to put it down. But of course, that doesn't mean it doesn't have any sweet moments. All the sisters scenes of Lia and Emma warmed my heart and the appearance of Elijah softened/lessened the chill, even if he didn't play much of an important role.

Intense. Unforgettable. Wintergirls is the book that will haunt you, whether you want it or not.

Rating: 5/5


Steph Su said...

I'm glad you liked it so much! I have this on my shelf waiting to be read, and I can't wait. :) Oh, and you NEED to read Speak. Need need need.

Jessica Kennedy said...

I won this in a contest so I have it to read! :)

Mishel said...

Really great review Thao! If I didn't already want to read this I definitely would have after reading this.

Michelle said...

This book is so amazing, I concur.

prophecygirl said...

I agree too, Thao - this book is a work of art.

Brilliant review!

Bookgeek said...

Loved the review and I agree, haunting book. Lives with you for a long time after.

Khy said...

LOVE this book! Amazing. I completely agree with your review.

Charley said...

I thought Speak was powerful, and this sounds equally so.