When I learned that Laurie Halse Anderson, the autor of the fantastic novel Speak (which I read it nearly 10 years ago and I can still remember how much I loved it) wrote another similar story, I just knew I had to read it. I expected it to be a great read, but Wintergirls exceeded all my expectations ten fold.
Firstly, it must be stressed that my poor summary does not do the book justice and I don't think any plot description could - if you really want to experience the beauty of this novel, then you just have to read it. After all, it's not the plot that makes this book so extraordinary, it's the outstanding narration. For all I care, this could be a book about farming or whatever and I'd still adore it due to the author's beautiful writing style.
I think this could possibly the most well written novel ever? It certainly is for me compared to the others I've read so far (except perhaps a couple of others). Personally, the prose left me stunned, I hung on every word and certain sentences were so incredible that they made me gasp and I kept re-reading them, which rarely happens to me.
The premise is quite simple (two friends with eating disorders fall apart, one dies, the other is guilt ridden and resorts to anorexia etc), but the author makes the most of it and more. Since the story is narrated by Lia, the reader really gets an incredible insight into the mind of an anorexic person, which I found fascinating (albeit disturbing). Since Lia is a very troubled girl, the novel often gets very dark and even difficult to read, but this just adds to the story and makes it more real. The book is basically a collection of Lia's thoughts and thus the ones supposedly inappropriate are even crossed out, which is a technique that I personally found interesting. Yes, the novel is quite disturbing, but it's still breathtakingly beautiful.
I fell in love with the book right from the start and as I was reading it, I really hoped that the ending wouldn't spoil it - and it didn't! It really was the perfect ending to the perfect book. I'll quote the final few paragraphs below as I think they are beautiful and sum up the whole book quite nicely (beware though, the following few sentences contain SPOILERS:
I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world. The tiny elf dancer became a wooden doll whose strings were jerked by people not paying attention. I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.Honestly, words cannot express how much I adore this book and how strongly I recommed it to everyone. I'm generally not one for re-reading books, but I can definitely see myself re-reading this one, or at least some passages of it. This novel is quite obviously a result of incredible talent and a lot of hard work - I really don't believe that someone can come up with sentences like *that* just out of the blue; it takes time and I really appreciate the effort that the author put into this novel (unlike some other so-called authors who just spew out simple sentences and descriptions and hope that readers will be fooled by the pretty cover etc. - yes, I'm looking at you, Pop Tart).
I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness.
Cassie did, too. We leaned on each other, lost in the dark and wandering in endless circles. She got too tired and went to sleep. Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help
I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.
There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore.
I am thawing.
All in all, I rate this book 10/5 simply because it's really twice as good as any other novel that I would usually rate 5/5. I'm afraid I can't present the author with the awards this book deserves, but I can certainly award her with a standing ovation for this truly outstanding piece of literature. Bravo!