Wintergirls: A Novel About Anorexia

My friend Lizzy, aka the writer Elizabeth A Lynn, pointed me at Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.  It’s a young adult novel about anorexia.  We talked about it on the phone and she said: its not really about adolescence; the protagonist is 18. It’s about family dynamics. I’ve never encountered the author before, but damn she’s good.  I think the book deserves a tremendous amount of attention.

Some quotes from the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Anorexia… imposes profound rigidity on experience, seems to force its captive into a labyrinth made of mirrors. There, the dialogue is only with one’s self, and is of the most self-annihilating sort: “You’re fat, stupid, disgusting.” In that world, all wishes are inverted: to feel desire is to be weak; to resist food is to be superior; to be angry at one’s parents is to cut oneself with a razor. To be is to not be.

Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson’s new novel, takes us into this dark, tyrannical world through the experience of Lia, the 18-year-old narrator, who has struggled with anorexia since the eighth grade. Lia is haunted by a hallucination of her dead friend, Cassie, who taunts: “You’re not dead, but you’re not alive, ­either. You’re a wintergirl, Lia-Lia, caught in between the worlds. You’re a ghost with a beating heart. Soon you’ll cross the border and be with me. I’m so stoked….

Anderson, the author of Speak and other award-winning novels for teenagers, has written a fearless, riveting account of a young woman in the grip of a deadly illness.

Normally I wait to read a book before I write about it, but this is being a very dense period with lots of travel.  I ‘ve heard many, many anorexia stories over my years of size acceptance work, and it’s an issue that always feels urgent to me. So I’m writing about it now. Wintergirls sounds like a really valuable book.