Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you're all making it through the week alright. Today we have a review of Laurie Halse Anderson's contemporary, young adult novel, Wintergirls. Let's get right into it.

Synopsis:  “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 were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives.Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. 

If she keeps on going this way – thin, thinner, thinnest – maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

Genre: Young Adult--contemporary issues--anorexia nervousa

First Sentences: "So she tells me, words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee. She tells me in four sentences. No, five. I can't let me hear this, but it's too late. The facts sneak in and stab me. When she gets to the worst part...body found in a motel room, alone..." A grabbing opening, but the rest of the novel's tension level didn't stay up to par.

Brownie Points: I enjoyed the way Laurie Halse-Anderson handled Lia's compulsive habits. Lia constantly relays the amount of calories in the food she is eating and is obviously more food conscious and aware of smells, texture, and taste than the average person. She also did her studies well in finding ways for Lia to force herself into starvation--mutilation to take her focus off her food cravings, convincing herself that the food was sludge that would infect her, and cutting everything into small bits--and also techniques for Lia to hide that she was deviating from her rehabilitation plan--putting quarters in her pockets and drinking loads of water to make herself weigh more during scale checks, scraping her food into her napkin, etc.

Beefs: One thing that I thought wasn't addressed enough was Lia's delusions. Her issues with anorexia were the main focus, but I think her schizophrenic tendencies of seeing things and people who aren't there, her paranoia about Cassie coming back to haunt her, and her self-mutilation was a little more urgent of an issue. I also wasn't a fan of the chapters being titled in correlation with how many pounds Lia had lost. And ultimately, I found the voice forced and overly literary.

Ending: I can't say I was very impressed or found it extremely emotional. It wasn't bad, but it didn't bring out any emotion for me, which is something I hope for in endings.

Recommendation and General Comments: The plot line for this story was pretty much non-existent. The novel was almost entirely internal, yet the internal conflict seemed contrived. The best scenes were between Lia and her mother, when her mother tried to force her to eat. Those were the most poignant in the novel, because they created the most conflict. While Lia's issues with control were compounded upon one another (cutting, anorexia, etc) in a realistic manner because they were all "control issues", many important themes within the novel went unaddressed--almost as if Halse Anderson had created too many issues for one novel. For this reason, I give Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls a rating of quarter moon.
This book was okay--only so so. I would not recommend it, though I wouldn't adamantly recommend against it either. It just wasn't really my taste. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved Speak, but I didn't fall in love with Wintergirls. The writing isn't even remotely similar to the writing in Speak, so if you choose to read the novel, expect something extremely different from Halse's earlier writing.

Would I aspire to write like this author? 
No--not for this book anyway. I didn't enjoy the writing style. The story was alright, but the writing on the line level was unappealing to me. Halse-Anderson tried to make it too lyrical. Many of the metaphors and similes were overly grandiose and artsy.

Don't forget to stop back by on Friday for our regular post! Til then ;-)


  1. I have anorexia in my family, so I picked up this book. It was very well written, but I didn't feel connected to the heroine. However, I loved her writing, so I will definitely get 'Speak'. Thanks for the recommend.

  2. Too bad the book wasn't as good as the cover. Great post and happy Saturday! I hope you’re having an awesome weekend!

    Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)

  3. Ruth--I agree. I didn't connect very well with Lia either. Speak is fantastic though; I highly recommend that one. Have a great weekend!

    Rachel--Yes, the cover is fantastic. Isn't it funny how if we love the cover we really hope the book is equally as good? Lol. Amazing what a good cover can do. Thanks for following! I'm glad you like the blog! Have a great weekend! =)

  4. This book cannot be fully descibed in words... all i can say is that this book is truly breathtakingly sad and really puts you into the mind of an anorexic teen. I recommened this book to anyone but i am warning you this book is really sad and you should really mentally prepare yourself for what you are about to read because its not only sad but kind of scary as well.

  5. i like your review! Here's mine: Have a nice day! :)