Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson's books act as beacons. They alerts readers to the existence of hard places. In Wintergirls, Anderson tells the story of one nearly dashed to pieces by loss and emotional burdens. The lyrical prose reflects Lia’s decent into the depths of anorexia and the self-hatred and despair that accompanies her inability to control her life, to stop bad things from happening and to stop her pain.

The text is not a magnet. It never made me want to be near or experience Lia’s self-inflicted wounds but only to better understand the disorder. Lia’s eating disorder is severe and she does more than resist food. She also cuts and self medicates. And she is not the only person her actions hurt. Her family is wounded as well. The truths about anorexia are ugly. It was hard for me to read the book because Lia’s depression is deep and her emaciated body revolting to behold if only in text.

Yet, beacons are necessary. If no one tells us about the danger, if no one tells others who are caught in life’s storms that they are not alone, what a tragedy that would be. Yes, we need beacons like Wintergirls.  Visit Laurie Halse Anderson's website here.

Publisher: Viking Juvenile, 2009     Pages: 288

Rating: 3.5 Stars     Source: Purchased


  1. This is such a worthwhile read for young people, as is much of Laurie Halse Anderson's work. I agree that Anderson doesn't romanticize Lia or her situation. It seems to me that this is the sort of YA fiction I've been yearning for while I read so many other novels that are all plot and stock characters with little thematic content.
    Not that every YA book must be an "issue book", Rather, I continue to wish that all authors who write for young adults would consider the contribution they could make to the development of their readers' minds and hearts at such a pivotal point in their growth as human beings.
    Halse Anderson seems always to attend to this, and for that - and for her reliably solid writing - I admire her.

  2. Every time I see this book I pick it up but I still haven't read it. It sounds like it's well worth a read. I haven't read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson since sixth grade and I'd really like to return to her as an adult.

    And that cover is beautiful. :)

  3. Laurie, I totally agree! Anderson manages to treat serious issues respectfully and beautifully with her prose and in such a way that is meaningful to young adults. She really is a great writer. I don't like to read a lot of "issue" books but when I do I hope to have an experience like I've had with Anderson's books.

    Ash, My first encounter with Anderson was reading Speak a couple years ago for a class. I love how she connects readers to issues and to each other. Wintergirls was a hard read but worth it!

  4. This is such a dark and heart wrenching book to read. I had no idea what goes inside the mind of someone with an eating disorder. The books I usually read center on the person being discovered with the disorder and seeking treatment. This one dug deeper and really opened my eyes. It's not just about the disorder, but overall disconnectedness that teens feel with others in their lives. It's definitely powerful, gritty, and, in my opinion, a must read.

  5. This was the first of Anderson's books that I read. She really has a way of writing for young adults that cuts through to the heart of the matter and seems to connect with them.

  6. Oh my gosh. Wintergirls is truly INCREDIBLE. I really think Laurie Halse Anderson is a genius. I had to pause after every chapter, just to take everything in!