16 June 2009

Review: WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson **********

"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."


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.
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.
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).

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!


Alicia said...

This was a fabulous book! Plus - the cover is so sparkly :)

Have you read Willow by Julia Hoban, that is a good one too!

bookalicious said...

THANK YOU. Finally someone who agrees! And yeah, the glittering cover was a lovely touch, even though the cover itself was already perfect.

Oh, nope, haven't heard of that one - I must look it up! Thanks for the recommendation! Have you reviewed it on your blog?

Alicia said...

What do you mean? How can people not think this book is fabulous?!!!

The cover originally drew me to the book (I had never read Speak, so I wasn't familiar with her work) and I was so happy to have read it!

Alicia said...

and yeah I reviewed Willow on my blog


it's great!

bookalicious said...

I don't think anything disagrees that the book isn't great, I guess that no one has read it yet, which is a shame. I read Speak prior to Wintergirls (like nearly 10 years ago) so I knew this book will be amazing because I loved Speak so much! What a fantastic author, I can't wait for her next book!!

Alicia said...

I can't believe I never even heard of Speak when I was younger...I'm so ashamed! I am trying to force my sister to read Wintergirls, but she isn't much of a reader so we will see how that goes!

bookalicious said...

Nothing to be ashamed about - there are soooooo many books out there that it's no wonder Speak passed you by. ;) Besides, it's not like it was Harry Potter or something, lol.

Hope your sister enjoys Wintergirls - I can't see how she wouldn't. ;)

Alicia said...

well.....I was a little late on the Harry Potter train, but I had at least heard of the books - I just didn't think I would be into wizards!

I hope I can convince her to read it though, she might think it is depressing and put it down!

bookalicious said...

So did you like Harry Potter in the end? :)

Well, I can't say the book's not the depressing and at times difficult to read, but it's so just beautifully written that it's impossible to put down even at the most gruesome scenes!

Alicia said...

I loved Harry Potter in the end - especially Ron Weasley hehe!

It was hard to read the gruesome scenes, but I couldn't look away because of her writing! It was a strange thing because my instincts wanted me to stop....I feel like I should go read it again!

bookalicious said...

Oh yes, I definitely want to read it again too, I just can't get over how incredible it was!

Btw, this book is the reason I came across your blog in the first place - I was reading the latest post on The Story Siren about meeting Laurie Halse Anderson and there were links of other reviews of Wintergirls so I clicked yours and luckily discovered what a wonderful blog you have! So once more YAY for Wintergirls. ;)

Alicia said...

Yay! I'm glad we found each others blogs :) Yay for book blogging....and Wintergirls of course!

bookalicious said...

*high five* :)

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