Saturday, January 17, 2009

Book Review: wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia is dying to be thin – literally. She’s already been in treatment clinics for anorexia twice, but it hasn’t helped much. She still counts calories obsessively and cuts open her body “to let the fat drip out”. When her former best friend dies alone in a hotel room after calling Lia 33 times, Lia’s demons within begin to torment her even more. And Lia has to decide: does she want to win the thin competition at any cost – even if it means her own death?

I have to admit that if I had first read a summary of this, I would not have read it. I’ve never been a fan of books about eating disorders, never obsessively weighed myself or counted calories, never understood the compulsion to do so. But I was drawn in by the pretty cover and the pretty title, and by the time I realized what I was reading, the pretty (and at times brutal) prose had already closed its tentacles around me and forced me to swallow the novel (278) whole.

Celebrated Author Laurie Halse Anderson (whose breakthrough novel Speak came out 10 years ago) excels at exploring and deconstructing the minds and motivations of troubled teens and gives the narrative an undeniable immediacy and urgency. Lia’s relationships with everyone around her – mother, father, stepmother, sister, therapist, guy she meets at hotel where Cassie died – take the back burner to her inner drama. Their appeals to her to eat, to save herself, fall on ears that can only hear those taunting inner voices that tell her that anything above 0 pounds is too fat. It’s not an easy novel, but it is one that demands to be read.

Wintergirls will be released in hardcover on March 19, 2009.
Enter to win a copy of Wintergirls and 7+ other Penguin books here.

29 comments:

Thao said...

The synopsis sounds pretty creepy. Dying to win the thin competition is mindless! But this is why the book stands out I guess. I love uneasy but addicting novels, like Thirteen Reasons Why. I think I'll love this one.

Steph said...

And you forgot to mention that I told you to read it like a million times :P Which maybe helped? Hmm.

Anyhow, I'm so glad you liked it. I agree, Anderson is a master at twisting things around and pulling out a voice that is unbelievably...compelling but maybe-slightly insane. It's brilliant to read about.

Steph

Lenore said...

Thao - If you like them uneasy, then you'll love this.

True Steph, your not-so-gentle urging certainly helped, but you also never told me what it was about. Very clever!

Beth Kephart said...

It does have a beautiful cover. I've never been a huge fan of the Anderson's prose — it always felt a little flattened to me. But this one gives me hope.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, I think this is the first novel that I've heard of that gets "inside the head" of someone with an eating disorder. Sounds very compelling.

S. Krishna said...

Whew, this one sounds like a doozy. I'm not sure if it's for me or not, but thanks for the review!

Shalonda said...

I'm very excited for the release of this book. I love Laurie's other books, so I am sure this will be no disappointment. Glad you thought highly of this one.

Alea said...

I felt the same way, a little bit afraid of the book actually, we'll see what happens when I read it! What you said about cutting herself open to let the fat drip out, makes me glad I already ate my breakfast, ek!

Liviania said...

I want to read this. Speak is really the only book of hers I've enjoyed, but this looks interesting.

Dar said...

I'd like to read this one Lenore, thanks for a great review. The cover is very commanding, it caught my attention immediately.

Ladytink_534 said...

I've always been on the thin side so I never understood the obsession that causes eating disorders either. This sounds like a very powerful novel though. Great review!!!

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like a powerful novel. I had a friend who suffered from Bulimia in high school and I remember the toll it took on her life. Fortunately she was able to overcome it.

Brooke said...

i will deffinetly be reading this.
Thanks for the review :)

Nymeth said...

I'm the same when it comes to having trouble relating to eating disorders. But your review definitely makes me want to read this.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really really really want to read this. It sounds amazing and I'm always interested in these type of "true-life" novels.

-Lauren

Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful review! I added the link to the ARC Challenge post.

Stephanie said...

I've found that most of Anderson's novels are a "tough" read. I read both Speak and Twisted. Thought both were excellent, but still tough ones.

Great review!

Janssen said...

Wow, this sounds pretty good. I find LHA to be a really compelling writer, even if her stuff can be pretty disturbing.

Amy said...

I haven't read any of her books, but this one does look interesting.

valentina said...

sounds awesome!beautiful review.

Joanne said...

Glad you enjoyed this one. Like you, I would probably have avoided this, as the eating disorder theme is becoming a bit overdone. However after reading your review I really want to try this one. It sounds like a very good story.

Charley said...

I thought Speak was haunting. This sounds powerful as well.

Amber said...

Your review made me really want to get my hands on this book. It went straight to the top of my Must Read list. I loved Speak, and I loved books that deal with teen issues in a realistic and scary way. Eating disorders are truly scary and this book sounds like it confronts the issue head on.

J. Kaye said...

When I read your reviews, it's a wonderful reminder that I need to get busy with the YA reading challenge...lol!

p princess said...

I wrote TWO books on this subject, the first being 'Empty fullness', about bulmia and overexercising (yes, we knew it was overexercising)
and 'Is that all there is?' which dealt with AFTER the weight loss of 50 lbs,.when you feel like you are in an alien body.. I would like you to review these two titles so please contact me.

windycindy said...

I work with young men and women, and this book would be very helpful!
Please enter me in your fabulous
book giveaway drawing. Many thanks,
Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

trish said...

You know what's weird about this book? Even though, like you, I've never obsessed about my weight, I started doing so after I read this book, because Lia's voice got in my head THAT MUCH. I'm not saying this would happen to teens, but Lia's voice was so real and like these tendrels that snaked into my brain.

#extra entries

KayLynn said...

Thanks for the review. This book creeped me out, it was sooo real like you actually know Lia and her struggles. Weird, right?

#extra entry

Loraine said...

i like your review! Here's mine: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/06/wintergirls-by-laurie-halse-anderson.html Have a nice day! :)