March 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak is a popular novel for our students to read.  It’s on the reading list for several classes, and many students have heard of it elsewhere.  Why, there’s even a movie based on it.*  I have not yet read Speak, but based on the popularity of the novel, I was interested in reading some of Anderson’s other work.

I ordered Wintergirls for the Curriculum Library last fall with an assortment of other young adult novels that had been requested by a professor.  When the books came in, I was particularly drawn to Wintergirls because of the cover art.** After reading the jacket description, I knew I had to read it.***

In the book, Lia comes face-to-face with death after her once-best-friend Cassie dies alone in a hotel room.  Lia obsesses over the fact that Cassie, whom she hasn’t spoken to in months, called her 33 times in the hours leading up to her death.  Lia and Cassie were self-described Wintergirls: Cassie bulimic, and Lia anorexic.  Cassie’s death incites Lia to relapse, and she does everything she can think of to hide this fact from her father, stepmother, stepsister, and mother.  She is haunted by Cassie’s ghost, who urges Lia on in her never-ending quest to reach zero.

Anderson does a fantastic job of giving Lia depth.  She is more than just her disease and obsession.  She is a loving sister, an injured and angry daughter, a hesitant friend, and a jaded observer.  The first-person narrative is a believable voice for an 18 year old: intelligent, sarcastic, guarded, slightly afraid.  Lia’s unspoken commentary, peppered throughout the text, gives us an insight into her obsession.  Lia’s words haunt long after you put the book down.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

*Which I have seen. Though I was very distracted by the fact that the main character is played by the girl from Twilight.

**If I don’t know what I want to read next, I tend to go by cover art. And yes, I know. Good art does not equal good book.

***In particular, I was drawn by the sentence, “I am the space between my thighs.”  How perfectly this sums up our culture’s obsession with thinness.



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