Laurie Halse Anderson just has this knack at writing books for young adults. She's simply fantastic at it! From Speak to Twisted and everything in between, I've loved her writing and her latest, Wintergirls, is no exception.
In it we meet Lia, a teen struggling with the terrible ferocity of an eating disorder, as well as with the death of a close friend. As Lia attempts to sneak past the rules and confines of her parents, losing weight while it appears she is actually gaining, she feels stronger and stronger every day, finally close to reaching her goal of nothingness.
The ghost of Lia's dead friend Cassie is haunting her, encouraging her to continue to starve, to exercise, to be like her...dead. She can't get well, even if she wanted to, as Cassie won't let her. Fighting her friends, her parents, and Cassie's ghost, Lia continues to lose weight, to get sicker and sicker, yet prouder and prouder of herself, until she hits a breaking point that will decide her fate to live or to die.
I honestly think I wrote down about 15 quotes from Wintergirls, as Laurie Halse Anderson just has a way of getting the words perfect for the situation. My favorite passage is this:
"The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. For one breath everything feels better. Then it melts. The bus drivers rev their engines and the ice cloud shatters. Everyone shuffles forward. They don't know what just happened. They can't remember." (14-15).
Raw emotion doesn't begin to describe the manner in which the author tackles the issue of anorexia. Yes... this is definitely an "issue" book, but it's real. No neat, clean edges. No tying things up in a pretty bow and solving all the character's problems. Lia is broken and may never be fixed...
To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I read this for the Young Adult Challenge.
Laurie Halse Anderson