byLaurie Halse Anderson
March 19th 2009 by Viking Juvenile
Hardcover, 304 pages
067001110X (isbn13: 9780670011100)
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lia's 18, a senior in high school, and the skinniest girl in school, just as she vowed, at the age of twelve, that she would be. For nine years, Lia had been best friends with Cassie Parrish, the girl across the street - best friends of the sort who live in your skin with you, who share your emotions as you're having them, who complete your soul. Then, after a car accident brought on by Lia's deteriorated condition, the girls are forced by their parents to separate. Six month later, Cassie's found dead, in a hotel room, by herself. The last person she called was Lia - and Lia did not answer her phone. Lia feels she is being haunted by her dead friend's spirit. And the weight of Cassie's ghost both terrifies Lia and beckons her to a place between time where the two girls can be together again.
I read this book in a two-hour bubble bath. While I did not love Wintergirls, I also couldn't put it down. Further, it's a book I think everyone will like and that everyone (even dads!) should read, for the subject matter, if for nothing else.
That's not to say there's nothing to enjoy in this book. There are sweet moments, funny moments. There is yummy food. Most of all there is kick-ass writing. I'd never read Laurie Halse Anderson before, so I had no idea to expect such genius. One of the things I liked about Anderson didn't give in to the temptation of a simple situation or an easy solution, but rather tied mental illness and broken home life and eating disorder into a whole bumpy package.
Anderson is a genius, but I was frustrated, at first, by that genius. The main reason I didn't love Wintergirls is that it's told in a style that's almost prose poetry. The style is meant to capture the disjointed, lyrical quality of Lia's instability. However, for the first 45 pages or so, I just felt that it distanced me from Lia, rather than brought me more inside her head. Finally, a plot is introduced (the "haunting") and I could settle into the narrative without feeling barred by its wording.
Having said that, I sort of liked Lia. It wasn't until the climax of the book that I wanted to shake her and yell, "Snap out of it, idiot!" Otherwise, Anderson did an amazing job developing Lia so that she feels fully realized, a girl who could live across the street. Throw in references to Tamora Pierce and Jane Yolen, and I definitely felt I could be or at least know Lia.
This is also the reason that this is not a book I would read again. I consider myself as someone who's comfortable with feelings and emotions and her body, but it was deceivingly tempting to fall into the trap of comparing myself to Lia - and finding myself lacking. Anyone who has ever looked in the mirror to see if her butt looked fat will identify with some of Lia's feelings. I have high hopes this book will have the sort of change-impact on girls' body image that we all say we need but have no idea how to accomplish.
OTHER REVIEWERS: Carrie from Carrie's YA Bookshelf, Stephanie at Juiciliousss Reviews