3:04 AM

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating: 4 stars

This book was really tough to read, but hard to put down 'cos I feel like I have to stick to it to the end. I felt like I shouldn't give up on the main character, even though she literally scares me. I picked up 'Wintergirls' as I felt like there aren't many books like this. Stories that aim to tell the truth.

The story is about a girl named Lia, who is a Wintergirl. Which means that she's a girl whose feelings have frozen and sort of not living nor dead. Her recently-turned-ex-best friend, Cassie, was found dead in a motel one day and the day before she died. She has called Lia 33 times, but Lia never bothered to pick up. With the huge weight of guilt weighing her down, she goes on a mission to get lighter, in hopes of feeling lighter. We delve into the warped mind of Lia, who sees Cassie everywhere. She is haunting her and claiming that she's waiting for Lia to join her. Meanwhile, Lia copes with her over-bearing but too-busy-for-anything mother, her promise-breaking father, her flawed stepmother and her step-sister who idolizes her.

It deals with eating disorders, particularly anorexia. Which is a tough subject to write about (so kudos to Laurie Halse Anderson) and a tough one to read about. I got really depressed reading this, although the ending made it worthwhile. The writing style is very unique. It's disjointed, sometimes I dunno if Cassie was truly haunting her or if it was just a figment of her imagination and a manifestation of her guilt. Lia's mind was a total nightmare to be in and I don't envy being her at all. The writer plays around with font alot. We get to read Lia's true feelings which were written and then crossed out. And her guilt nagging at her everyday is written in tiny fonts that pop up in between paragraphs. It was a maze of emotions. But I enjoyed it.

Lia is an EXTREMELY complex character. Actually all the characters in this book are complex and three-dimensional. Even minor characters such as Elijah, who I totally couldn't figure out, even till the end. But I knew he meant well. Lia battles her demons everyday and it's harsh what she does to herself. At first, I thought she was being stupid. Then I started rooting for her 'cos I felt that she's a decent girl deep inside. So much so that I ended up thinking like her and was taken along through her mission to get thinner and thinner. Like I would get worried for her when she eats in front of her parents to defiantly prove that she's perfectly normal so that she won't be sent back to rehab. I kept thinking "OH NO! Her daily calorie intake is bust". Which is WEIRD!! 'Cos it wasn't written there. But when she started to get scary, when she started talking to Cassie and really spiraling. It was tough for me to root for her. I got super pissed at her character when Emma (her younger step sister) found her cutting slits all over her body and her family fell apart, all because of her. All the money that they are paying for her medical bills and shrink sessions. It felt like she was being such a hassle, such a deadweight, such a waste of time and effort. What was the point of trying so hard to help someone who refused to be helped, and just throws the kindness back in their faces?? I literally wanted her to just die, at that point. And I think so did everyone 'cos her parents and step mother cracked.

At the same time I understood her plight. I felt that every word was true. Those ugly words that she says to herself when she eats. Her obsession with weight and all that calories counting and over-exercising. It easy to empathize, I think everyone has been there at some point.

But when she started hurting others, I lost my sympathy for her. She did redeem in the end, when she fought with her demons and faced Cassie once and for all.

There were TONS of symbolism and metaphors in this books. It's not plot driven, but image driven. Lots of nightmares being described. The fact that Cassie ate the 'See-glass', I felt, was like Cassie taking Lia's hopes and dream to her deathbed. She regains herself only when she realizes it was right there and she could see through it again if she was determined enough.

Oh my gosh, I am starting to analyse this book. I should stop. But the point is that there are several aspects in this book, besides the plot and the focus on anorexia that will set you thinking. Not just about your perception on food and family, but on life as well. It's the kind of story that sticks with you long after you flipped the last page. And it is one where you'll find something different, each time you read it.

My fave character is Lia's biological mum, the busy-surgeon. At first I thought she was the enemy. Overbearing and obnoxious to think that she even had a say in Lia's life when she's too absorbed in her work to even care. But then as I got to learn more about her, I realized that she too has her demons and that it kills her that the only person she can't seem to cure is her own daughter, who's dying before her very eyes. Dying in her own hands. My heart really went out to her and I felt like she's the only one who cared enough about Lia to give her the tough love she needed. In order to set her straight. I really admired her strength, even though she is not without flaws.

Overall, this is a solid and amazing piece of literature. I think it is not for the average reader. You definitely need to be mentally prepared to enter Lia's mind as it is REALLY dark in there. I think you have to be strong enough to handle all her emotions and thoughts. 'Cos it WILL affect you. And though it is not plot driven, I was curious about Cassie's death and cared enough about Lia to read on and reap the benefits of this story. It made me reflect. And I enjoyed pondering on the hidden meanings behind each imagery.

Highly recommended, but only if you dare.

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