Friday, March 27, 2009

Mock Printz 2010: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 9780670011100
Starred review in: PW, SLJ, Booklist

Lia has severe depression, which she releases by cutting herself and making sure that she never eats. Her depression starts to spiral further out of control when her estranged best friend Cassie calls her 33 times before she dies, alone, in a motel room. Lia controls her guilt and depression by cutting herself even more and making sure she gets to her goal weight... but it's never enough and now Cassie is haunting Lia, reminding Lia that she is a "wintergirl" caught somewhere between life and death and that it would be "wicked cool" if she joined Cassie as a ghost. Should Lia keep on her self destructive path, or should she start to save herself?

"Wintergirls" was haunting.. and wonderfully written. Readers will flock to this book; first, because it's Anderson and second, because it is a real life struggle. The reader travels with Lia and understands how rage at her parents, competition with a friend, self loathing, and ultimately sadness mark Lia's development into the destructive character she is.

Anderson does what she does best, and perhaps that's why it seems so closely comparable to "Speak". Written as a diary of day to day thoughts, Anderson tells Lia's story lyrically and honestly. The most haunting moments are the ones where Lia speaks with pure honesty.. when she slips and lets us know that she does want food, that she does care for her family, or about the guilt of being the trigger to Cassie's death. The journey that one is taken on is hard; one deals with Lia's highs and her impossibly, desperate lows. One cringes when Lia surfs the sites dedicated to ProAna and starvation or celebration that she weighs 0085.00.

I began by saying that "Wintergirls" is haunting, but it's a lot of "ghosts" in this book that stay with you... Much like the "ghosts" that stay with Lia throughout her story.


Keri said...

Just finished this...I would be shocked if this didn't get at least a Printz Honor and unless there is a very strong fall like last year, it could very well win. Although I've been wrong many times before, so who knows.

SusanRap said...

Last night we discussed this book in our Parent Teen book discussion group. It went over very well. The book will definitely be a strong contender for the Printz and served as a wonderful jumping off point for discussion. One of the most interesting things about Laurie Halse Anderson is the width and breadth of her writing. One of the teens asked if the author ever had anorexia nervosa because she was so impressed with how much she understood the mindset. I think it is a tribute to her writing that she is able to write about a wide range of characters and make it all believable. Excellent book for teens.
Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library