Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Wintergirls

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.As the novel opens, we meet Lia, an eighteen-year-old girl who's been in clinics not once, but twice for anorexia. Her family thinks that she is still in recovery, but she's slipping back into her old habits and using tricks to make then think she's still healthy as her weight starts to plummet back into the danger zone.Her best friend Cassie- well, former best friend, seeing as they haven't spoken in months- just died and the night that it happened, she called Lia thirty-three times. Lia never picked up. Cassie's ghost now haunts her wherever she goes and as the voices in Lia's head whisper to her and encourage her to shed pound after pound, as her already-crumbling life continues to fall apart, as the girl inside starves to death, she gets closer and closer to joining Cassie on the other side.This is the third time I've read Wintergirls, but it's still just as powerful of a read as it was the first time. It's a dark, depressing, emotional, and morbid read, but it's so sickeningly fascinating that you have to keep reading. I'm not sure how accurate of a portrait this is, just how much it resembles the mind of someone who really is anorexic, but even if it's not, it's still powerful because as frightening as it is to read, you just can't stop.I love the style in which this book is written. Almost everything around Lia is alive, brought to life with personification that is so constant in this novel that it's almost irritating. The only reason it's not is because it contributes to the story instead of distracting from it and is used well; it's used so well that I don't even care that no teenager would think in the manner that she does. I also enjoyed Lia's true inner voice, usually represented in strikethroughs like this. Lia is constantly doing mental math with her food and rejecting anything high in fat or calories, but this girl inside is the true Lia- the one who just wants to eat until she's finally full and is slowly starving to death as Lia's weight plummets.The characters were another high point with me. My personal favorite was Emma, Lia's sweet little stepsister that is just a little bit overburdened, but I also thought that the characters of Dr. Marrigan, the hardworking mother who's hardly around but still loves her daughter and who feels pain when she sees what her daughter is doing, Professor Overbrook, the father who cares for his daughter Lia but is terrible at keeping his promises and spending time with her, Lia herself, the girl who wants to weigh nothing and float away from her life, and Cassie, the ghost that haunts Lia in death and the friend that Lia trapped in the ice with her in life.Speaking of Cassie, I liked how there was a little ambiguity with her. Was she a real ghost, or was she just a hallucination that Lia's mind came up with? It all depends on the reader's point of view. Mine was that she was a ghost, but someone else might argue that she wasn't real. Either way, she makes for a fantastic symbol of Lia being haunted not only by her former best friend, but her own past and the things she's done wrong, such as sabotage Cassie's recovery.All my life, I've been happy with my body (except for one certain part, but losing weight won't make those any smaller) and have never obsessed over losing weight, but I would call this novel an excellent preventive measure against anorexia and bulimia. The thought of sinking into the same frames of mind that ruined these two girls, where I'm obsessively counting the calories of everything I eat or throwing it back up or starving myself to near-death, terrifies me. This is not a promise, but I like to think that it is even more unlikely for me to develop an eating disorder after reading this novel.(In addition to this, the cover is absolutely amazing. I can't think of a better cover that could have been designed for it.)