"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.
Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way - thin, thinner, thinnest - maybe she'll disappear altogether.
In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrical book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
©2009 Laurie Halse Anderson; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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At the beginning of this audiobook, I wondered if something was wrong with the recording. I asked myself, “Why are the chapters formatted this way?” I quickly realized they were formatted like numbers on a scale, and this was an appropriate choice for a book about a teenage girl with an eating disorder.
“Just eat!” her loved ones demand.
But for Lia, it isn’t that simple. She is broken, and no one seems skilled enough to put her pieces back together. Her mother, a surgeon, treats her like a case study. Her father, newly married, is too busy. And her best friend Cassie, who also struggles with an eating disorder, has just been found dead. The most helpful person in the story seems to be Elijah, a young drifter who works at the hotel where Cassie died. Lia tells herself to stay strong by staying empty. Her weight keeps dropping.
In the end it is Elijah who most effectively pushes Lia toward life.
Author Laurie Halse Anderson writes about an eating disorder with the intimacy of someone who has experienced one. After a little while you realize that there are two ways the story could go. Lia could get better. Or she could die.
Narrator Jeannie Stith brings Lia, in all of her brokenness, to life. Her voice conveys every feeling that Lia experiences – guilt, sadness, anger, loss, hunger, hunger, hunger. And then,
in the end, hope.
“Wintergirls” is a stunning piece of young adult fiction. It is raw and real. It isn’t pretty. It is, in fact, rather ugly. And painful. But if you’ve ever loved someone with an eating disorder, or someone with a touch of madness, you should listen to this book. It will open up your heart even while it is breaking it.
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