Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia has just learned that her wayward best friend Cassie was found dead in a nearby hotel.  Also, Cassie had called her 33 times in the hours before she died, leaving tearful messages asking Lia to call her back, which Lia never did.  These calls, the messages Cassie left, and episodes from their long friendship haunt Lia throughout the story.  Cassie and Lia were blood sisters, making vows in the snow and under the light of the moon to be the skinniest. girls. ever.  They were wintergirls...frozen, distant, half alive, and, in their minds, S.T.R.O.N.G.  Cassie was bulimic, and died from it.  Lia is anorexic and making steady progress towards the same fate though she denies that until the end.  She has been hospitalized twice already, having gotten down to about 85 lbs.

Now home life is prison for her.  Constantly being monitored to see that she eats (she's very sneaky cautious about this) and weighed weekly to see that she stays in a healthy range (nothing a bit of tinkering with the scale, a limit of 400 calories per day, sewing quarters in your robe pockets, and 4 hour middle-of-the-night workouts can't handle).  No one understands, everyone wants to send her to the loony bin (Cassie doesn't exactly go away after she's dead), and the razorblades seem to be the only ones on her side.  

So, second somber title in a row.  REALLY somber.  However, I loved another book by this author, Speak, so I decided to give it a try.  I think she is a beautiful writer, one of my favorites, but there is no laughter here, no lightness, no smiles unless they are artificial or hard won.  There is healing, redemption, a light in the darkness.  This book is really worth the journey, as are all of her titles in my opinion.

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