Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Over breakfast, Jennifer tells her about Cassie. How they found her alone in a hotel room, dead. Cassie, who was her best friend since third grade, who suddenly stopped talking to her last year, who left 31 messages on her phone last night...why hadn't she answered?

Lia can't let them see how if affects her, how it threatens to rip her open, how she knows that Cassie's ghost will come to haunt her. If she does, they'll send her back. So she waits until her stepmother (Jennifer) takes her stepsister (Emma) to school, and then pretends to eat a bowl of cereal (275 calories). She knows she has to eat if she's going to drive, so she eats some raisins, almonds, and a pear (172 calories). At school, she goes to the nurse's office to rest. The nurse makes her drink a glass of orange juice, but it's that or she has to go back to class. Everything spins.

Back at home, there is a message from the hotel where Cassie was found, telling her to call Elijah. Cassie left her another message. She pretends to eat Thanksgiving leftovers, and has two rice cakes with mustard (90 calories), and goes to bed. Today she weighs 99.0 pounds. If they knew, they would send her back. Her mother calls to talk to her, but she doesn't return the call. Dr. Marrigan (mom) is too busy to take a real interest in Lia, she's a cardiac surgeon. Professor Overbrook (dad) is too busy with his book, and his students, and his new family. Emma loves her, but Lia has to protect her.

Cassie was bulimic. Lia is anorexic. She's been hospitalized twice, and she's under weight again. Her goal begins to blur, and everything starts to spin out of control after Cassie is gone. Cassie starts visiting her every night, in her dreams and nightmares. Starts taunting her, saying she's next. That's the real question, does Lia want to live?

Anderson does a fantastic job of capturing the struggle of eating disorders, and the toll it takes on all the aspects of your life. It asks the important questions, it tells the dirty secrets, and it is written with a slight stream-of-consciousness that teens will appreciate.
"...she ordered cheese fries, chicken nuggets, and a salad. I drank black coffee and licked artificial sweetener from the palm on my hand. She asked me to guard the door while she puked lunch into the dirty mall toilet. We held hands when we walked down the gingerbread paths into the forest, blood dripping from our fingers. We danced with witches and kissed monsters. We turned us into wintergirls, and when she tried to leave, I pulled her back into the snow because I was afraid to be alone," (Anderson pg. 98-99, 2009).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Wasted by Marya Hornbacher

Anderson, Laurie Halse. (2009). Wintergirls. Viking (Penguin Group): New York, NY.

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