Friday, March 6, 2009
Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
As an aspiring young adult writer I'm actually a little embarrassed to admit that I just read Speak for the first time a few months ago. Suffice it to say that it was amazing. One of the best books that I've ever read, and if you haven't read it, stop reading our lame-ass blog and go pick up a copy and read it right now. Seriously. You won't be disappointed.
Anyways, thanks to my fellow Fab 5er, Jill and her amazing blog roll, I happened to see a link to Ms. Anderson's blog announcing that you could request an ARC of her new book Wintergirls via her publisher's MySpace page. Sure enough I sent them an e-mail and a friendly PR gal had my copy FedExed to me the very next day, and I landed my very first ARC. How fancy am I?
Ok, back to the book. Wintergirls follows Lia, a struggling 18-year-old anorexic whose best friend just died. She's a wintergirl, starving emotionally and physically. With a goal-weight of 80 pounds she acknowledges that she won't be satisfied until the scale reads 0. She's haunted by her dead best friend, ostracized from her dysfunctional family and isolated from old friends. Like Speak, the prose is poetic, and yet stays true to the voice a high school aged girl. I found myself marking pages so I could go back and re-read some of the lines.
"I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want wired to a porcelain frame."
See what I mean? Her prose is beautiful, haunting, perfect. She makes me want to be a better writer.
I have a daughter who will turn 2 in a couple months and this was a difficult book for me to read. As a parent it's terrifying to think of making some kind of mistake that could trigger an eating disorder or worse. Of course, it's even more terrifying to think that it has nothing to do with parenting at all, that sometimes it just is.
I'm pretty familiar with eating disorders as they were very common in both my high school and college, and Anderson's account is deadly accurate. Wintergirls is a gripping look into the head of a very sick eighteen-year-old-girl, and it should be required reading for parents and daughters alike.
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