"Who wants to recover? It took me years to get that tiny. I wasn't sick; I was strong."
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson is a very chilling read. Lia, protagonist, is an anorexic young adult. Her obsession with her weight began at a very young age with her best friend of nine years, Cassie. Lia's preferred method for staying thin is restriction while Cassie is bulimic. The story kicks into high gear when the duo stop being friends after Lia blacks out while driving them to take the SAT's. They both are admitted for their illnesses, but when Lia emerges from treatment Cassie has proclaimed that Lia is the root of all of her problems and no longer wants to be friends. Lia eventually learns to live without Cassie, but her world is once again rocked when Cassie is found dead in a seedy motel room. Lia, simultaneously, is haunted by Cassie's ghost and is pushing herself toward an all time weight loss goal. Lia has to decide whether to let Cassie's ghost drag her down or if she's finally ready to live like a "real girl."
Overall, I was impressed with the research Anderson did into the world of eating disorders including the websites devoted to thinness and "thinspiraton." I was however disappointed with the lack of a romantic interest in the novel. I think romance and the attraction to the opposite/same sex is a dominate part of adolescence and the fact that Lia doesn't have a romantic interest and the one guy she does talk to she labels ugly is an oversight. Especially since Elijah, Lia's non love interest, essentially saves her life by abandoning her and telling her to face her demons. I would have enjoyed some reconciliation between them in the future, maybe he should have come to visit her at the hospital...
"I am angry that I starved my brain and that I sat shivering in my bed at night instead of dancing or reading poetry or eating ice cream or kissing a boy..."In respect to the young adult audience and the sensitive topic, I think this book is a must read for young adults and for a select few adults. I would recommend this read to adults who are familiar with Anderson's other books, Speak and The Impossible Knife of Memory, and possibly fans of Thirteen Reasons Why.