I just finished reading Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson over the weekend, and I gotta tell you- it's intense. It is definitely not a light read; man is this book hard to swallow (haha-pun not intended).
Wintergirls tells the story of two best friends, Lia and Cassie, who make it a competition to see who can be the skinniest. However, prior to the book's beginning, the girls have a falling yet (though neither can stop the competition), and Cassie ends up calling Lia 33 time prior to dying alone in a motel room. Lia doesn't get any of the phone calls/messages until after Cassie's death, and by listening to them, Lia begins seeing Cassie's ghost.
As the story continues, we read how Lia struggles with her weight (roughly 105 when the book starts and quickly dropping) and how she continues to force herself to lose weight even after 2 trips to rehab. Lia cares about no one (especially her relationship with her mom) except her stepsister, who she "tries" to set an example for. While trying to deal with everyday life, Lia constantly faces her own inner demons that only more weight loss and cutting can "resolve". As her inner thoughts believe, cutting and not eating are the only times she can feel something, and are the only things in her life that she can control.
I love Laurie Halse Anderson and the books that she writes, but this one was almost a little much for me, mainly because I'm trying to lose weight as well, and reading about how not eating and counting calories can make you lose a lot of weight definitely made me feel like eating extra amounts of food to keep both of us sustained. This book was a great look into the psyche of an anorexic/cutting girl, and made me appreciate my own sanity when it comes to food, weight, control, and feeling (anything). Though I'm not sure I would ever read this book again, it was a good read a definitely gave me a perspective on a life that I know I never will become.
Anderson said that the reason why she wrote this book was because she wanted to write something that could be a response to all the letters and emails she gets from teens across the nation about anorexia, bulimia, and cutting. In the acknowledgements she thanks all the doctors and psychiatrists that she worked with in helping her create Lia and making her believable as a girl with health and mental problems. Well done, Anderson, but prepare for intensity- it took me a while to finish just because Lia's problem is so heartbreaking and frustrating because she has the power to change herself; she just chooses not to.