Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 278 pages
Published by: Viking
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.
Before we begin, I just want to say that this is a really confronting book – it’s up there with Ellen Hopkin’s books. I read Speak right before it, but even that didn’t affect me on the level that this did. Just be careful reading this, okay guys? If you’re triggered by any of these things: anorexia, bulimia, self-harming…be careful. And I love you all.
Back to the book.
The blurb describes it as “lyrical.” And it is. Laurie Halse Anderson’s descriptions are absolutely incredible. Bordering on surreal, there are metaphors that work so well, things you’d never think to make metaphors about. Reading Lia’s story is so sad, and these descriptions just seem to heighten that. For a writing style that’s unique and beautiful despite how sad the story is, I’d definitely recommend this one.
I loved the family aspect. They’re far from perfect, that’s for sure. They argue frequently, and often don’t know what to do about Lia’s anorexia, and they were real. That’s what struck me most about this book; despite the descriptions that are so unique and out-of-this-world, everything else was firmly planted in reality. And that’s what makes it so scary.
Mental illness is scary. It’s scary because we can’t see it, and it can be difficult for the loved ones of the person with mental illness. And that’s what I loved most about the family, because that was portrayed so well.
Things don’t magically come together neatly at the end. It’s not like, GROUP HUG and the book’s over.
It was a realistic portrayal. Didn’t sugar-coat anything.
We got to see Lia’s thought process. She sees food mostly as calories. Honestly, all I could think is that she must be seriously good at maths (I’m sorry. These are the types of stupid things I think in amazing books). We see how much she obsesses about her weight. Her goals are constantly changing – first it’s 100, then 95, and it never stops. It just keeps going. It was really, really insightful, and I learnt a lot. I think reading is a huge help with empathy, because we’re literally inside the heads of characters, and that’s one of the big things that I found incredible about this book.
I wasn’t a big fan of the hallucinations, or whatever they ended up being. Not sure why. It just took away from the other things? I think? But this still makes my favourite shelf.
This is a very, very powerful read. I recommend it to fans of Ellen Hopkins – both of these writers are not afraid to confront the big issues.
Rating: 5/5 Wonderkitties