Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I mentioned Wintergirls in this post when it first came out. It's been six months now and I've finally gotten around to reading the novel. I have to admit that while I wanted to read Wintergirls, I was a bit leery because of the subject matter. I knew Anderson would have handled the subject well since I'd read Speak, but I knew Wintergirls would be a difficult read and I wasn't sure that I was up for it. After reading it I can report that Wintergirls is not an easy read, but it definitely was not as difficult as I expected it to be.
The novel opens with protagonist and narrator Lia finding out that her best friend Cassie had died the night before ("...body found in a motel room, alone..."). At this point 18-year-old Lia, suffering from anorexia nervosa, has already been hospitalized twice. She is living with her father, stepmother, and younger stepsister and doing everything she can to keep losing weight without letting any of the authority figures in her life catch on.
Wintergirls is written as Lia's interior monologue. As such it is very effective. Things don't always make sense, but that's because Lia's perception of the world (and herself) is skewed. I really liked the way that Anderson represented Lia's self-editing and recurring thoughts.
The novel is haunting and Lia is not necessarily a sympathetic character, but Wintergirls is a well-written and important book. It's a book that you might not want to read, but that you can't help but keep reading once you've started. My biggest frustration when reading the novel was with Lia's father and step-mother. It seemed so obvious that Lia was not doing well, that she was falling into her old patterns, that she was lying and sneaking around, but they were almost willfully oblivious.