Why did I start reading this book at 10:45 pm? I knew two pages in that it was going to be amazing. I spent so much time frantically bargaining with myself: “I’ll just read for ten more minutes” and “Just ‘til midnight.” Then I reached a point where I felt like I was reading too fast and worried that the book wouldn’t last. Wintergirls is that good.
Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Lia, an anorexic haunted by the death of her bulimic best friend. Lia’s demons become increasingly apparent as the novel progresses, from the calorie tally of everything eaten to the rambling delusions that Lia’s disease creates in her head. Anderson’s cautionary tale is grueling in its descriptions and heartbreaking in its bleakness. I felt hopeless for Lia and her twisted family throughout the entire novel. It reminds me of Go Ask Alice and Cut in its unflinching depiction of a too-common problem.
There are so many students at my school who will be gripped by this novel. I think of Anna, who constantly begs me to order A Boy Named It, of which she read a snippet (sorry kids, I’m your censor!) and Addassah, who will be captivated by Anderson’s style. I also can’t wait to share it with our health teacher; maybe she can incorporate elements into her study of eating disorders. I feel fortunate that anorexia is not a common issue among my students; The Bahamas has a different standard of beauty. I don’t know how I could reach a student who is so lost in the endless winter of her own suffering.