“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
I have followed Laurie Halse Anderson's livejournal for the past year. I found her website while looking at a list of authors who have blogs and I fell in love with the details of her writing life. Then I saw the development, and eventually, the publication of her book Wintergirls.
I had never read a book by her. I wanted to, but have you seen my to-read list? It's epic to say the least. But more and more I was becoming curious of Anderson and her books. We run a book drive at work, donating children's books to local hospitals for children with terminal illnesses and many of her books are on the shelves being featured for donations. I had enough. I finished reading a book for Banned Books Week and took out Wintergirls.
Despite throwing a birthday party for both of my parents and cooking for six straight hours (taking a thirty minute break because I nearly sliced my finger off with a food processor) and trying to entertain people for an additional 6 hours. Despite working a 10 hour shift. I took the book out on a Friday and I was finished with it by Sunday afternoon.
Wintergirls isn't a cheerful read. It is gritty and real. It reveals the internal mindset of a girl twisted into a depressed anorexic existence. The book travels with Lia as she suffers the loss of her friend and falls deeper into the pit of her eating disorder. The book is poetic in a way. Anderson truly knows how to write and the language she uses is just... beautiful. But with this poetic writing we spin down the rabbit hole along with Lia as she gets more and more dangerously closer to losing control- and her life.
This read can leave you uncomfortable: take that as a word of forewarning. But it is beautiful and deep. The featuring of the anorexic support groups that are on the web (yes, they exist) I appreciated because I find it shocking that these sites exist. But they do and now they are a little more in the mainstream. The crossed out words- Lia's way of trying to continually adjust her way of thought. The repetitive words as her mind slips into the danger zone. 95 lbs is pure fat to Lia. She needs to get to a lower weight- preferably lower then that. The chapter titles represent the weight on a scale and the numerous references to how many calories are in any item of food that is mentioned refers to just how obsessed Lia is with food and weight.
Anorexia is a disease, a depression, a screwing of the mind. Laurie Halse Anderson displays that beautifully in this book. The tumult of thoughts and fears flooding through Lia are transformed into words and placed into your hands. A fast, emotional read, that could have been written in no more of a beautiful way.
Watch the video of Laurie Halse Anderson discussing the book Wintergirls:
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