Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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20 Comments on “Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson”

  1. Hannah Sorgi says:

    Hannah Sorgi
    This book from the moment it began kept my heart pounding, not in a good way, but the “I think I just stopped breathing this book is in tense” type of a way. Unlike some of the subtle undertones in Perks of Being a Wallflower, there are none in Wintergirls. The first page starts out with the pact: “I swear to be the skinniest girl in school, skinner than you.” This is a scary thought reading this as a girl. Its a very real issue among teens, as well as, adults. Body image is a struggle that everyone encounters at one point in their lives. This novel would go under the teen angst genre because it focuses on the crutial part of a girls life when body image is everything. Society wants us to skinny petite perfects girls, and that is not reality. As a reader I could relate to this book over the others because it felt the most real to me. I know I’d never relate to being a heroin addict or struggling with sexuality or getting inpregnated but weight issues I can relate to. I struggled with weight issues all of my life, especailly as a teen, as well as, now. Those pressures to be thin do not go away. They are everywhere. I almost was scared for how I could relate to how Lia felt in the novel. I’ve never been in her situation but I definitely related to how she felt. In the Gurdon article, it states:

    “The argument in favor of such novels is that they validate the teen experience, giving voice to
    tortured adolescents who would otherwise be voiceless. If a teen has been abused, the logic
    follows, reading about another teen in the same straits will be comforting. If a girl cuts her flesh
    with a razor to relieve surging feelings of self-loathing, she will find succor in reading about
    another girl who cuts, mops up the blood with towels and eventually learns to manage her
    emotional turbulence without a knife”(Gurdon,2).
    This is how I felt about the novel, other girls reading this novel and are feeling the same way would realize that life is worth living, and that they can overcome this type of a struggle as Lia did. This book should be censored from libraries and bookstores but embraced into adolescent culture as way to help and inform girls about body image issues.

    Also, a crucial part of this book is how the narrative is presented. Having the chapters represent the pounds Lia weighs, the crossing out of words, and the breaks between lines, all set up the novel to have this rollercoaster effect in your stomach. The pauses, and blank page gave me gut wrenching feelings while reading this book. I could not put it down because I needed to know if Lia was going to be okay. As we discussed with Perks of Being a Wallflower, I needed closer, I needed to know that she was not going to die. In the other two books that we have read, as well as, some of the others that we are going to read, I never got the feeling like things weren’t going to work out, or that I even cared if they did. In Wintergirls, the way Anderson presents the story, I cared a lot. Some would say I’m an emotional reader, but this novel is an emotional novel that felt way too real to me.

    This novel will stick with me.

    “I am still thawing” -page 278

  2. sbuckleit says:

    Eating while reading Winter Girls makes for an uncomfortable combination. Lia’s descriptions of calories clawing at her stomach and sandwiches sullying her innards causes the reader to glimpse food in a way that usually only people with anorexia see. Although it’s important that these issues are brought to light and thoroughly dissected, it did make me pause and wonder, “is this really good for a kid on the verge of anorexia to read?” It made even me (someone who’s always had a very healthy relationship with food) think a little too much about eating for the next few hours, just because the societal pressures that Lia’s facing are so familiar.
    Lia is both the protagonist and antagonist–the reader isn’t sure whether to love her, hate her, be repulsed by her, swayed by her… I know that I felt each in turn, depending on how she was doing with her battle. This novel was the first one to actually give me an idea of what goes on in the head of someone with anorexia (and I’ve wondered lots– How could you do that to yourself? Can’t you just make your muscles move and eat it, especially when you’re going to die if you don’t? Don’t you want to get better?); it was fascinating reading about the lengths that Lia would go to avoid help, as well as how her issues were much less about food than they were about feeling in control and worthwhile. It gave me a much better perspective on the disease itself, and with this knowledge I’ll be a lot more sympathetic to those with eating disorders. I think the fact that Lia recovers in the end is highly important–if her story had ended badly it only would’ve shown teenagers that cycles are hard to break. Novels like these give kids an idea of what it’s like to have anorexia, and if that kid already has an idea, then they show her that adults and peers also understand the struggle, and will not think of her less because of her fight for control.
    I also found it interesting that this is the second book that we’ve read where a close friend of the main character has died just before the beginning of the story. Is this tactic used to define the contrast between what happens if you don’t get better, and what happens if you do? Or is it just meant to bring the topic of suicide (whether it be through not eating or drugs) into the novel for further examination?

    Sarah Buckleitner

  3. Evan Phail says:

    There’s so much to say! Throughout the book, I felt so uncomfortable, because of the voice that Anderson gives Lia. The use of crossing out phrases was so effective, showing what Lia thinks and what she actually says. Many times, she’s only spitting out what her parents or her therapist want to hear. It was very sickening to see that Lia knows she’s not getting better and she doesn’t have a problem with it. Her goal keeps her weight shrinking.
    It was disheartening to see proof that the little things that parents or adults can say can affect a child’s perception. For example p164-165, ballet teacher makes comment about Lia’s weight, to stop eating ice cream, and then took away her solo. I saw this as the catalyst that triggered Lia’s habit when she was young.
    Also the reality and violence of the way Cassie died is hard to read but also necessary to understand the worst consequences from eating disorders. Boerhaave syndrome, a rupture of the esophagus caused by repeated vomiting, is so violent and so sad a death for Cassie.
    I also thought Elijah as a character was very strong. I liked that he wasn’t just a cookie cutter male love interest for Lia but was quite the opposite. He disappeared for a little while since we first meet him but when he comes back towards the end he gives another perspective for adolescents to see. Although they may be going through tough times, Elijah sends the message to them and to Lia that “Your family wants to help. They love you. It’s not right to run from that.”
    When I was towards the end of book, I was becoming upset that Lia seemed to be opening up to her therapist just because she had her worst cutting incident. Although, yes, it was quite frightening, this wasn’t enough of a catalyst for me, (although stopping for Emma’s sake could have been an ‘okay’ ending). What I’m really saying is Lia’s experience in the motel when she’s all alone was a much better catalyst. Her experience is similar to Cassie’s but she makes it through. The choice to have Lia trying to get better in the end was a smart choice. It gives the audience (which could be young men or women) the idea that if they are going through this, they can overcome it… but it also gives the reasons why eating disorders should not be kept quiet.
    As Hannah said, the ending was unpredictable. I wasn’t sure whether Lia would make it. The language was so vivid and darkly written. My style of writing. Haunting and effective.

  4. Caley says:

    Caley Goldblatt

    Alright, I understand that this review might be a little harsh but I feel like some of the author’s choices were silly. I definitely understand Lia’s struggle with all of these demons, her weight, cutting, mourning the loss of her friend, but frankly I did not like the rhetoric of the story. I thought it was cheesy and contrived to use all of the metaphors and personification of darkness. When she spends a page describing the spider and the darkness swallowing Lia, for me, took away from Lia’s voice and the story’s power. I think that Lia’s gut crushing story is enough. I wish it were a little more realistic and less flourished upon. Every time I began enraged or frustrated with Lia and what she was doing the ghost of Cassie would pop up and I would be like, come on. Or that character Elijah. To me, there relationship seemed completely disconnected. I see the point of him in the story, he is definitely a round character, but I didn’t think that if she visited a motel in real life that would have happened. It didn’t seem true to Lia’s character to connect to someone so randomly or so quickly.
    I thought the most interesting relationship in the story was the one Lia had with her. The moments where Lia was feverishly thinking out calorie counts or her weight mesmerized me, in the way that a car crash would. It was hard to stop reading while at the same time I wanted to climb into the novel and shake her while also hugging her telling her it would be okay. It’s hard to read from the perspective of someone who is so clearly off from reality. I am not sure if I exactly liked this book, but I will definitely remember this book. Also I did not really like the ending. I thought it would have been much more powerful if she would have died but then again it is a young adult book and the strings in those are usually nicely tied with a bow.
    Also, I really appreciated at the end how the author included some of her research methods for the book. I found myself wondering what she had done to prepare for such a personal portrayal of anorexia and the description gave her credibility in my eyes.

  5. Meghan Warager says:

    Text Response: Wintergirls
    Meghan Warager

    I believe that Laurie Anderson’s Wintergirls is a brilliant example of how an author’s use of rhetorical strategies in their writing brings empathy and understanding from the reader towards a misunderstood issue such as anorexia. From an outsider who has no experience with anorexia, either personal or from my close friends, I found it hard to understand how one could struggle with this type of disease. It seemed to be as a extreme teen angst or body image problem that one should be able to work out. I found that by reading Wintergirls I was able to understand the perspective of the main character Lia and truly understand the tragic warped reality she has created for herself.
    The first brilliant move I thought the author did was the way Lia narrated the story by putting the calories after every named food, and crossing out the thoughts that were going through her head and then adding what she is suppose to be thinking, or crossing out “mom” and then writing Dr. Marrigan. These rhetorical moves allow the reader to get more of an insight to what Lia is thinking. Simply from crossing out the word Mom and writing Dr. Marrigan we have a picture of what her relationship is with her mother. By constantly having to read the amount of calories in each food item we get the idea of how tiresome but important it is for Lia to do this every day. Also the way the story is written with indented sentences that are the words going inside Lias head such as “stupid/ugly/stupid/bitch/stupid/fat” or “…body found in a motel room, alone…” shows the hyperactivity going on in Lia’s brain and all the thoughts that consume her just in daily life. It becomes understandable that she is struggling more than a simple body image problem, she has psychological issues rooting from her relationship with her best friend and her relationships with her parents. Anorexia seems to be a way to have some sort of control.
    I think it was smart on the authors part to have Lia and her step sister Emma have such a close relationship, probably the strongest relationship in the entire book. First, when Lia mentioned her sister at first she wrote stepsister but crossed it out and wrote Emma, showing that she thought more highly of her than her mother. I think that Lia felt a leadership role with her younger stepsister helping teach her different sports or how to knit, and it think it is this relationship that eventually saved Lia’s life. She was horrified about what she did to Emma and worked hard so that she could live to help teach her younger step-sister. It was the glimmer of hope in the entire book.

  6. kbronner says:

    I originally read this book over the summer, and when I reread it this week, I noticed so much more about the rhetoric. Some of the wording gave me chills, and looking at the pages from a layout perspective, it is clear that the author (or editor) was making these important rhetorical choices for a reason. Lia’s uncertainty is shown when she begins a thought but crosses it out and rewords it such as on page five when she struggles with eating breakfast. She also does this in reference to what to call her stepmother and her mother.

    One passage that distinctly stood out to me was in the beginning of the book on page seven.
    “The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. for one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. For one breath everything feels better.

    Then it melts.

    The bus drivers rev their engines and the ice cloud shatters. Everyone shuffles forward. They don’t know what just happened. They can’t remember.”

    To me, the imagery in this passage is just amazing but it also personifies the idea of teen angst. It describes the teens as being made up of all these horrible things like “the stain of lies” and “broken condoms” and then reverts back to the days of childhood by referring to crayons and lunch boxes. This passage through Lia’s narrative, shows what she sees at the difference between being a teen and being a child. This idea is also reflected every time Lia refers to before she had an eating disorder and when her parents were still together. The reader can also see this when comparing Lia and her step sister Emma.

  7. Eliss Manon says:

    Eliss Mañon
    Adolescent Literature
    Michele Polak
    September 20, 2011

    I thought that Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson was an amazing choice to be read in our Adolescent Literature class. This book deals with a lot of the issues that many teens of all generation have to cope with. Anorexia, friendship, death, and divorce are all themes that we see in Wintergirls. Lia is an example of a teenage girl who does not know who she is because she lost herself when dealing with anorexia. We see this a lot when she says, “When I was a girl” as if her dealing with anorexia has changed her gender. Dealing with body image is one thing that every teen goes through sooner or later in their lives and Wintergirls touches those areas. One of the important impacts on her life was when she loses her friendship to Cassie and then nine months later Cassie dies.
    Although she did not show any emotion about her friend’s death, one sees that she is hurt because she tries to figure out how it happened and she feels guilty that she ignored all 33 of her calls. One can argue that it was not her responsibly to be there for someone who did her dirty in the first place and that she didn’t know Cassie was going to be needed, but either way it was not her fault. I think that Cassie had an impact on Lia’s life because she wouldn’t have started what she was doing if it wasn’t for Cassie’s influences. Not only does it deal with body image but also divorce and dealing with a new family when she has problems of her own.
    Something that I realized while reading was how Lia, living with her stepmom and stepsister, had a closer relationship than her own mother, who she calls by her last name. Her mother was always too busy for her but for her stepmother, Jennifer, we see how she cares for Lia. I would have thought that because Jennifer is living with Lia she would not want her daughter, Emma, around her because of the bad influences that she can have on her, but we can see how Jennifer is protected of her own Emma’s weight when she is only in the 3rd grade (I thought it was crazy how she didn’t let her Emma who is a child eat ice cream or chips.) Then I took some time to think about the way Jennifer wants Emma’s diet to be and I figured out that Anderson was probably trying to let the reader see that there are healthier ways of eating (just like Jennifer would feed Emma healthy food) and that anorexia is not the way to go to lose weight.
    This book is a good book for many teens to read boys and girls because it shows how ones body image can really be affected by the influences around them such as media and even by their own friends. It’s a book that everyone can relate to!

  8. Luke Lyons says:

    Oh my. It must be exceptionally tough to be a teenage girl in high school. I am aware that bulimia is a serious issue and that’s why I truly hope that his was (to some extent) an exaggeration. On top of dealing with grave body image problems, Lia also had to deal with suicide. I can’t imagine having a friend/old friend put the weight of their suicidal action on me. It’s no wonder why Lia practically went insane.

    I don’t know anyone with bulimia. This will probably be the closest I get into the “life” of someone with bulimia. The way the book was written also played a huge role when peeping into this life. I found myself counting my own calories after reading this book in intervals! I was able to get inside of the mind of Lia and I am not proud of it, but as much as I wanted Lia to change, I started to kind of monitor what she was eating. I also loved how fickle Lia was when it came to the words and titles she used. For example, calling her mother Dr. Marrigan instead of mom intrigued me. On the same note, the fact that she would write things and then cross them out allows us to see her original intent. After that, it’s up to the reader to interpret why she would change her mind.

    I wonder whom Anderson wrote this book for. Being a male, I could only feel sympathy for Lia (and Cassie). On the other hand, I honestly could not see a female in high school read this book and think that being super skinny is the way to be…or at least I hope that couldn’t be the case. If anything, Wintergirls should turn young women off of the idea that self-harm is good for you. Don’t even get me started on Lia cutting herself.

    Suicide and body image issues were two of the main focuses of this young adult book. These two issues couldn’t be more relevant in the day and age we live in now. This book goes to show how “dark” young adult fiction can spread awareness more than anything. Being 19, Anderson opened up a world for me that I believe a 19-year-old young man seldom sees. I’d let my daughter dive into this book…if I had a daughter.

  9. lmaalexander says:

    This was the first time I read this book and I had a really hard time finishing it. I just didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters Anderson presented. I think that if I had read this when I as fourteen, I might have been able to relate to Lia a little better. But beyond not being able to relate to her, I spent the entirety of the book being angry at Lia. She knows how sick she is; she admits it many times. Yet she continues to starve herself, cut her body and exercise for hours on end. She knows that weighing 85 pounds is “dangerland”, yet she continues all of these behaviors to achieve her goal of weighting 85 pounds. Lia however, wasn’t the only character that frustrated me. Her father’s seeming lack of concern over his daughter’s behaviors infuriated me. Her stepmother’s inability to see that Lia was lying about her weight and eating habits made me want to scream. Even though Lia’s mother is frequently painted as the bad parent, she was the only character that I really liked.

    So yes, I did not like this book. I would not recommend it, and I will not read it again. However, from a rhetorical standpoint I was fascinated by this book. I loved all of the different fonts Anderson used. Each font almost represented a different mood or feeling. I also loved how throughout the book, Anderson lists the number 1-33 in smaller font underneath the text and right aligned. This is how many times Cassie called Lia before she died that night in the motel. Lia is haunted by this fact, and Anderson forces us the reader to be haunted by it too. We are never allowed to escape the feeling that Lia caused Cassie’s death somehow.

    The imagery Anderson uses in this novel also stood out to me. For instance when Dr. Marrigan is describing how Cassie died to Lia, I actually had to put the book down and stop reading for a while. I can’t remember the last time I had that happen while reading. It was powerful and deeply disturbing. But, I guess those two words could describe this novel as a whole as well.

  10. carlagaynor2 says:

    Wintergirls has such an impact because of the point of view it is written from. Had it been form any other character in the novel, it definitely wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful. When reading this I couldn’t help but think about the calories of everything I at for hours after. What really stuck with me was the crossed out sentences and words throughout the book. So many kid and teens, especially girls, struggle with body image. Though I cannot relate to Lia’s problem with anorexia, I can somehow relate to her thought process. Anderson captures a realistic thought process of a teenage girl so well. This book is real to me.

    Anderson does not add in anything that seems exaggerated or blown out of proportion. Everything the reader perceives is seen through Lia’s eyes. This book made my heart race the entire time I was reading it. Though many issues like sex and drug use are not brought up in abundance in this novel, I definitely think it is geared towards a reader ages 12-17. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable with 5th or 6th grader reading this just because of the explicitness of Lia’s thoughts. However, I don’t think reading a book about an eating disorder will make a young girl develop one. I think this book educates teens well. It brings up the dangers of an eating disorder—quite graphically in the case of Cassie.

    I also thought the ending was well thought out. It is important for the teen reading this novel to know that it is possible to recover. However, it is up to the reader to decide how fast she recovered after leaving the institution, or how successful the recovery was. Ending while Lia was still in the facility leaves the reader with hope, but not a definite outcome. The last line of the book was also quite powerful. With the book titled Wintergirls, I knew that the name would bear some significance. Throughout the book her friend Cassie, because of her starving herself, referred to Lia as a Wintergirl. Cassie told her she was neither alive nor dead—one could say she was in limbo. This is why the last line of the book gave me chills.

    “I am still thawing” (Anderson 278).

  11. shanita316 says:

    This book spells out Teen Angst. Anderson mainly focuses on anorexia, but she touches on drugs, peer pressure, identity, etc. Reading this book brought me back to my first year. My roommate had anorexia and she was very critical when it came to counting calories and the things she ate; I was able to connect with Lia because of this. Unfortunately for my roommate her disease affected her so much she was forced to leave after just a month because she was not meeting her weekly weight requirement. Many cannot fathom how people can view food with such disgust; however we need to recognize that most eating disorders are mental diseases, where people’s perception of themselves is not reality. As we brought up in Monday’s class, the numbering of each chapter was the pounds Lia weighed. The weigh I read each number resonated with me the way a slot machine would at a casino, waiting to see what the next number would be. The crossing out of phrases is a metaphor for her thinking about eating one thing, thinking about how many calories it was and changing it to something less fattening. The more weight Lia gained, it was like the more her world came crashing down, the more her weight went down the more free she felt.

    For example, when she would describe Emma and her eating habits, she state it as, Emma this is my younger step sister who is cute and chubby, it would be more of the smell of the potato chips she ate is gross or the “sky blue milk” shows just how much sugar she eats. When Jennifer would describe Emma, Lia would assume that she was not okay with Emma being chubby, but in my opinion she was because she bought her the cereal and allowed her to eat hearty meals even if the remainder of her milk was a different color. Jennifer did monitor her because she did not want her eating junk food after school, obviously because she would soon be having dinner. It freaked me out that every time Lia contemplated eating something the amount of calories it was registered in her head. In addition, it also bothered me that she would run downstairs before Jennifer to make sure it looked like she ate, but she hadn’t it would just be her father’s dirty plate in front of her.

    Was Lia’s eating disorder a result of her parents not loving each other when they brought her into the world, her father cheating on her mother several times or simply because her parents were not around much ( remember when she first met Cassie her babysitter took her over to their house)? This refers back to our list, independence vs. dependence and parental control. Very Angsty!

  12. Katie McLean says:

    I’ve started to write my blog entry a couple times, and can’t quite nail my thoughts on paper. Clearly, Anderson has done a profound job of getting inside Lia’s head; by using first person we can explicitly hear her thoughts and what she is actually verbalizing to others. Many people have already mentioned the use of “strikes” to emphasize the juxtaposition between Lia’s thought and action– this was extremely helpful to fully comprehending her perspective. It is always intriguing to think of what the story would be from another character’s eyes. Anderson could have added Lia’s mother’s story of Lia– that would be a drastic change. Lia does not act out to others as much as she self-talks, negatively. She is a secret self- sabotage, which is at times private and other times fully exposed and apparent to her family.

    It was heartbreaking to watch her struggle, I actually never once hated her–although her actions were violent and frustrating, I only so badly wanted for her to figure her life out. I could see her mother’s struggle; this position was easiest to put myself into. She truly enveloped an outsider’s worrisome mission to help a lost loved-one. But I’m glad that this story did not have an epilogue, it would be far too corny for Lia to say that she was thankful now for her mother’s persistence. These glimmers of appreciation did shine through though at times.

    Cassie as a ghost, I thought, was well done. I was impressed how Anderson pulled this off. It gave Lia the right sort of insanity that the reader needed to see, but it didn’t make her crazy. It just pushed the point further– Lia was in trouble, far in too deep, she needed help and therapy.

    For some reason I’m really having trouble discussing this book. It was not that it was traumatizing– it was well written, upsetting and thought provoking. It was also not cliché, it dove right into such complex issues that so many girls have, and took it to reality. I might need some space from this one until I can really grasp the ending..

  13. Stephanie Haddad says:

    Wintergirls was one of the most powerful and riveting stories I’ve ever read about eating disorders because I was able to read a truly honest and terrifying perspective on the idea of self- image. This book was also very compelling in that it wasn’t only about eating disorders—it entwined anorexia, the influence of family, divorce, step-sister, step-mother, friends, and high school all in one. Laurie Halse Anderson really delved into the mind of Lia, so that the readers could get some sort of impression of the psychological prison that many adolescents experience regarding body image. I’ve never read a book about eating disorders that truly gives an up close and personal description of the bizarre ideas and metamorphosis of thoughts that take over an adolescent’s entire perception of existence. Lia was stuck in limbo—not truly alive as the quote on the cover reads, but not dead either. Her world as a wintergirl was a large bundle of confusion. One of the most difficult scenes to read was when Lia stripped completely naked in front of the mirror drawing lines onto her body, spilling blood everywhere…. And then Emma walks in. This was very sad and scary—for a long time in the book, I was mostly focused on Lia because I hadn’t notice up until that scene how much the family was truly affected by Lia. I saw a completely different side to her family. I was so angry with Lia because not only was she self destructing, but Emma, her step-sister that she holds near and dear to her heart, had to witness one of the most traumatic and haunting images she’ll most likely hold in her mind forever. I learned how critical Emma’s role was to this book because Lia finally realized that this wasn’t only about her anymore…. Someone she loved was being affected now too.
    I also found it very interesting to finally understand how Lia was able to slowly start her transition from shunning food to accepting food back into her life as well as coping with her problems and finally being honest with everyone. Her friendship with Cassie coupled with the death of Cassie had a huge impact on Lia’s eating disorder. Cassie influenced her perception of food from the beginning, but Cassie also showed Lia how to find the light in the end and escape into the living world where wintergirl Lia could finally be real Lia—no longer stuck in limbo. Anorexia and cutting are two very difficult topics to read, but I really feel like I was able to learn so many details about the struggles of teens and how unfortunate it is that these eating disorders are beginning at such a young age. This book is emotionally exhausting, powerful, mind-blowing, mind-boggling, painful, heartrending, haunting, memorable, forcful—the list goes on. I believe that adolescents could learn a significant amount of information from the terrors of anorexia and its terrible outcome just by reading this chilling book.

  14. Lindsay Webster says:

    So I’ve never read a book like this before- and I mean that in two ways. 1. I’ve never read a book on this topic that was written in this particular way, and 2. I’ve literally never gone about reading a book in the way that I read WINTERGIRLS. Laura and I sat across from each other in our common room, day after day, reading aloud depressing passages (like the “MUST. NOT. EAT” fiasco on page 185), and stuffing our faces full of cheese balls and chex mix. Lia lost 15 lbs over the course of the book? Well we each GAINED 20. So we win, I think.

    The only thing I found relatively interesting about this book was the way it was written- it’s such an invasive exploration of the way girls with this disease truly think. All the sentences crossed out and then corrected, and the flashbacks, and general patterns of the words fitting together, all add to the way that the reader ingests the story (haha ingests, no pun intended….).

    When I think about this book- the main rhetorical thinking I’m drawn to is the idea of audience. I think Laurie Halse Anderson captured and spoke through a voice that reaches the ears of an incredibly wide range of girls, boys, parents, teachers- everyone who’s known or heard of, or just thought about these issues. Laurie Halse Anderson is a writer FOR her readers. I remember when Laurie went on a national press tour for SPEAK, to also simultaneously introduce WINTERGIRLS, and at some event she read a poem aloud, a literary mosaic of fan letters she’d received in response to SPEAK (http://community.penguin.com/_Laurie-Halse-Anderson-reads-a-fan-poem-about-SPEAK/video/1368826/150186.html WATCH IT PEOPLEEEEE BE MOVEEED). I’ve loved her ever since.

    But sorry, Laurie- this book weirded the heck out of me.

  15. Christopher Shanley says:

    Christopher Shanley
    I grew wholeheartedly with someone’s comment up above. The voice of Lia seems too constructed and it falls flat in its execution. The fact that the story lacks any sort of positive undertones exacerbates this difficulty to the point that the book feels unsettling beyond It’s subject matter. If Lia were “honest” with us it might be a different story but the character is remarkably unforthcoming. It’s clear she relishes her disorder- within the framework of the disorder itself but what remains absent is any sense of context for her honesty. If even her relationship with Casandra is less than honest it’s difficult to buy the idea that she would narrate so clearly to me.
    The narrative is further undermined by an obsession with what I would call “clichéd” dialogue. The dark constructs Lia builds around herself are not necessarily unbelievable- but their ubiquity suggests a level of dysfunctionality that the author conveniently ignores as it serves her purposes. My chief objection is that Lia never really stumbles on anything original or moving on its own merits. I feel like that should be a prerequisite to telling this sort of story. You’re asking your reader to make an emotional commitment to your material. At very least there ought to be a payoff.
    If I never got invested in Lia I was never going to follow through this story naturally out of a concern or interest in what happened to her. I’m sorry if that sounds cold it is what it is. I can also understand that that’s not the “goal” of this author. The intent here is to reach a group that is suspicious of adult interference to begin with and will likely respond best to a temporary validation of their belief system. But even under this interpretation I feel the book falls flat- kids undergoing this kind of strife and inner turmoil need more than just a realization that they can get better- they need to want to get better.
    This leaves the possibility that this was written for nobody. It was a work of conscience assuaging on the authors part meant to highlight her sympathy. This is a really cynical take on the motivations here- I can recognize that. But in lieu of evidence to the contrary it seems the most likely explanation for what’s going on her.
    Scratch that- the other possibility which I discounted out of hand for vanities sake is that people actually might find this honest and helpful rather than saccharine and unsettling.

  16. Shane Samuel says:

    Wintergirls is definitely a very intense book, I found myself surrounded by a variety of emotions. I felt bad listening to them talking about being the thinnest girl in their class because I could only imagine the little girls in real life who have this mindset. I found the characters to be very well written and relatable which I found made the story interesting. I really enjoyed how Casey’s ghosy was used as the tool to propell the story and act as the “voice of reason.”

    Although, I viewed Casey’s ghost as Lia’s escuse to avoid the fact that she knew what was right and wrong. This novel reminded brought me back to my childhood where I had this mindset that thin is the best way and as a result I developed a slight eating disorder. But I eventually realized this was wrong and broke free of it. I guess you could say that I am one of the lucky ones because I was able to rise out of it and did not need to hit rock bottom to see its negative effects.

    Now that I think about it, I see how ignorant I was and although I do not like storoes to always have a happy end, I am glad this did because it provided closure.

  17. Katie McLean says:

    LOVE that clip

  18. Yuliana Baez says:

    So just when I thought these books would not get any more relatable, here comes Wintergirls. Wow, is all I could really say after reading this text. There is so much to take in with this book. Eating issues is something that I know most of us have dealt with. Even to this day I know myself self-consciously I am always worried about what I am eating and is it going to affect my body image. In this society, there are so many pressures when it comes to having the “perfect” body. What we all fail to realize is that none of us are really perfect.

    As we all know this story is about Lia and Cassie both who have been best friends since the third grade. They both grew up obsessed with their body image. It was an unhealthy relationship between the two of them because they both dragged each other down, each afraid and dealing with their issues. Eventually, Cassie breaks off the friendship, leaving Lia alone to her death. All the struggles that they went through just gave me the chills because it brings me back to when I was a teenager. I know my friends used to complain all the time about how “fat” or “skinny” they were or just say stupid comments that made me angry. Looking back now I get angrier and think like wow if only I knew that out there people are actually dying slowly because of these inflicted thoughts.

    I personally wouldn’t have picked up this book by just looking at it. Nothing by the cover gives you the idea that this is going to be such prevailing story. What is more captivating is the actual way it was structured. I really felt as though this was someone’s personal account that I picked up. Rhetorically with all the cross-outs and bolded letters etc…Laurie is catching our attention (at least she kept mine). This I think she did it on purpose.

    I agree with Katie, this is a book that I have to just sit back and digest, especially after reading the last sentence “I am thawing.” Like I said…WOW. I really still do not know or how to express my word for this book.

  19. Daphney Etienne says:

    I feel like this book fits beyond the category of teen angst as this girl has serious issues and it’s more than “woe is me”.
    WOW. INTENSE. I don’t even know where to start.

    Anorexia is much more about being thin. Her parent’s divorce, and her biggest trigger, the death of her friend drive her into full-blown anorexia.

    I struggled with body image issues since I was very young. It would be the exact book I would pick up, and I feel like people would look at this novel, as a trigger, but it would scare me into getting it together. This book in a way reminds me of pro-ana sites and I can remember going to those sites for “thinspiration” and being scared a way.

    Being older now, I would never pick up this book because it’s painful. It is a rhetorically fantastic book from the chapters to the line breaks, to the crossing out if her thoughts. And the most rhetorically fantastic part is on pages 185-187. Three pages of the words “Must. Not. Eat.” It says more than any other chapter. I’m pretty sure when we all go to that page we skipped it, I definitely did. But can you imagine actually reading those 3 pages. How annoying that would be.
    The author goes inside her head. This is what this girl, and everyone with an eating disorder go through. You think about food every second. If doctors haven’t classified this DISEASE as a mental one, I don’t know what they’re waiting for.

    I like the fact that they include her family. Her parent’s reaction, especially her mother’s break down was interesting because it’s about the parent’s too since they have to watch their child self destruct.
    (We often don’t get the parent’s view)
    I couldn’t help but wonder how she will influence Emma. I know one reason I calmed down with the weight stuff is because I have a younger sister. And I make sure to never ask her if I look thin (I used to do it all the time) and I certainly never weigh myself in front her.

  20. Celeste Smith says:

    I found this book extremely powerful because I, as so many other young adults, have grown up believing that I am fat and unattractive. This is the first time I have read this book, and it came at an unusual time when I feel that I am dealing with my own eating disorder of sorts- having to “eat” everything through a straw and not being able to keep anything down. This in turn, leads to my lack of desire to eat, since it seemingly has no purpose as I know it will not remain in my stomach. I believe that my current situation affected the way I interpreted this book. Although I cannot really relate to Lia, as my state is not voluntary (although one could argue hers isn’t either), it is striking to me how many people have told me I look great, and how, because of that and the changes I notice myself, I have a new level of self-confidence. In this way, I can understand Lia better than I could have before my current situation when she says how tiny equals strong, not sick (even though the rational, pre-Wintergirl me says that is ridiculous). Lia also enlightened me to the extreme way of thinking that being anorexic requires. It is literally a 24/7 obsessive routine that, if you are “strong”, you never give up. Just reading about the intense focus and amount of thought, like calculations, ways of trickery and more, made me exhausted, let alone someone who was actually carrying out these tasks. I literally found myself eating less while engrossed in this book (as well as after I was done because it affected me that much) because the deeply personal and detailed account Lia shared in the book suddenly heightened my awareness of my body and how I affect it through food and exercise.
    It was foreign and rather uncomfortable to have a book have such an impact on me in a physical way. Although I have read plenty of books that have affected me emotionally, I have never changed my habits or routine due to a book. I attribute this to Anderson’s powerful writing style with incredible attention to detail (right down to how she numbered the chapters and what Lia really wanted to say with the cross-outs) which made me feel I had a secret window looking into Lia’s life, knowing everything about her from when she was a “real girl”, to her secret tricks, her inner desires, and much more.
    I hope that “real girls” reading this become aware of the addictive nature of an eating disorder and its real consequences. I think Anderson was very wise when she had one eating disorder patient die, but the other seek the long road to recovery. This and things like the tension within Lia’s family, her relapses, Cassie’s ghost haunting Lia, Lia’s tricks, and much much more seem to emphasize the real nature of eating disorders and throw out the idea that Anderson is, in any way, trying to sugarcoat any aspect of this issue.