Reviews for Wintergirls
Booklist Reviews 2008 December #2
"*Starred Review* Problem-novel fodder becomes a devastating portrait of the extremes of self-deception in this brutal and poetic deconstruction of how one girl stealthily vanishes into the depths of anorexia. Lia has been down this road before: her competitive relationship with her best friend, Cassie, once landed them both in the hospital, but now not even Cassie s death can eradicate Lia s disgust of the "fat cows" who scrutinize her body all day long. Her father (no, "Professor Overbrook") and her mother (no, "Dr. Marrigan") are frighteningly easy to dupe--tinkering and sabotage inflate her scale readings as her weight secretly plunges: 101.30, 97.00, 89.00. Anderson illuminates a dark but utterly realistic world where every piece of food is just a caloric number, inner voices scream "NO!" with each swallow, and self-worth is too easily gauged: "I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through." Struck-through sentences, incessant repetition, and even blank pages make Lia s inner turmoil tactile, and gruesome details of her decomposition will test sensitive readers. But this is necessary reading for anyone caught in a feedback loop of weight loss as well as any parent unfamiliar with the scripts teens recite so easily to escape from such deadly situations." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #2
"It's not nice when girls die," observes Lia, who suffers from anorexia and an addiction to cutting herself. Lia has just heard that her estranged friend Cassie was found dead, alone, in a motel room -- this after leaving Lia thirty-three messages, none of which she listened to until it was too late. Cassie's death tips the already fragile Lia into a painful, spooky vortex of self-destruction. The specter of Cassie (who died of a burst esophagus, the result of violent bulimia) haunts her; her busy, divorced parents fail to take adequate action; and even Lia's love for her stepsister can't dispel her disordered visions. Crossed-out words and phrases show the double voices of anorexia vs. healthy reason and illustrate the disconnect between perception and reality. Anderson conveys Lia's illness vividly through her dark, fantastic thoughts -- full of images of tangled, spiky vegetation and continuous, bitter rejection of her parents. To read this stream-of-consciousness, first-person, present-tense work is to be drawn into an anorexic mentality (grotesque descriptions of food, calories assigned to every morsel), and therefore not for every reader, though it makes for a tense, illuminating tale. Why Lia's parents don't intervene is puzzling (familiar as they are with the behaviors and dangers of this mortal disease); but in effect it allows Anderson to demonstrate that Lia's healing must come from her own desire to live. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 February #1
Neither therapy nor threats nor her ex-best friend's death can turn Lia away from her habits of cutting and self-starvation. In broken, symbolic and gut-wrenching prose, Lia narrates her hopeless story of the destructive behaviors that control her every action and thought. She lives for both the thrill and the crash of not eating, and any progress she may have made toward normal eating is erased when her former best friend Cassie dies alone in a hotel room. The trauma of Cassie's death coupled with Lia's strained relationship with her parents and stepmother makes her tighten her focus on not eating as she slides into a world of starvation-induced hallucinations. Uncontrollable self-accusations ("Stupid/ugly/stupid/bitch/stupid/fat") and compulsive calorie counts punctuate her claustrophobic account, which she edits chillingly to control her world. Anderson perfectly captures the isolation and motivations of the anorexic without ever suggesting that depression and eating disorders are simply things to "get over." Due to the author's and the subject's popularity, this should be a much-discussed book, which rises far above the standard problem novel. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 January #4
Acute anorexia, self-mutilation, dysfunctional families and the death of a childhood friend--returning to psychological minefields akin to those explored in Speak, Anderson delivers a harrowing story overlaid with a trace of mysticism. The book begins as Lia learns that her estranged best friend, Cassie, has been found dead in a motel room; Lia tells no one that, after six months of silence, Cassie called her 33 times just two days earlier, and that Lia didn't pick up even once. With Lia as narrator, Anderson shows readers how anorexia comes to dominate the lives of those who suffer from it (here, both Lia and Cassie), even to the point of fueling intense competition between sufferers. The author sets up Lia's history convincingly and with enviable economy--her driven mother is "Mom Dr. Marrigan," while her stepmother's values are summed up with a prcis of her stepsister's agenda: "Third grade is not too young for enrichment, you know." This sturdy foundation supports riskier elements: subtle references to the myth of Persephone and a crucial plot line involving Cassie's ghost and its appearances to Lia. As difficult as reading this novel can be, it is more difficult to put down. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) [Page 120]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 February
Gr 8 Up--The intensity of emotion and vivid language here are more reminiscent of Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999) than any of her other works. Lia and Cassie had been best friends since elementary school, and each developed her own style of eating disorder that leads to disaster. Now 18, they are no longer friends. Despite their estrangement, Cassie calls Lia 33 times on the night of her death, and Lia never answers. As events play out, Lia's guilt, her need to be thin, and her fight for acceptance unravel in an almost poetic stream of consciousness in this startlingly crisp and pitch-perfect first-person narrative. The text is rich with words still legible but crossed out, the judicious use of italics, and tiny font-size refrains reflecting her distorted internal logic. All of the usual answers of specialized treatment centers, therapy, and monitoring of weight and food fail to prevail while Lia's cleverness holds sway. What happens to her in the end is much less the point than traveling with her on her agonizing journey of inexplicable pain and her attempt to make some sense of her life.--Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library [Page 96]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2009 April
For high school girls like Lia and Cassie, body image is often a severely distorted mirror. Anorexia and bulimia turn many of these beautiful young women into ghosts of their former selves or "wintergirls," frozen and easily shattered. They are so busy weighing and measuring every bite and exercising beyond caution, or conversely binge eating and then purging, that it becomes their sole preoccupation in life. Lia learns of the suicide of her friend Cassie with the heartbreaking headline, "body found in a motel room, alone. . . ." In an earlier pact between the two to be the thinnest, Cassie has won, but only Lia knows why Cassie chose suicide. "I know why. The harder question is ‘why not?' I can't believe she ran out of answers before I did." Her own battle with anorexia and cutting have resulted in two stays in rehab and altered living arrangements when she moves in with her father. Hanging over Lia's head is the constant knowledge that, although Cassie had dropped her as a friend months previously, she had still called Lia, not once or even a few times, but thirty-three times the night she died, and Lia never picked up This excellent read for any young adult is also highly recommended as a tool for helping teens to better understand the distorted mindset of eating disorders. The style, language, and topic are all spot on for this age group, and the lessons, including those about choice, are fundamental.--Ava Ehde 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.