Thursday, April 29, 2010


It's been a few years since I crossed the Rubicon to read a YA novel. How did I know that Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson would resonate with me? Lia is eighteen and in a desperate struggle for her life. The death of her best friend and former anorexic co-conspirator drives Lia deeper into starvation, confusion, and peril. She trusts no one, not a soul, with the fact that her friend left 33 cellphone messages for her on the night of her death--messages that Lia did not even listen to due to a break-up in their decade of friendship.

Judging by the author's note at the end of the book, Anderson wrote Wintergirls in response to years of pleas from her readers, pediatricians, and teachers to write a book about teenage girls who suffer from eating disorders.

But based on my reading of Wingergirls and my experience recovering (finally) from anorexia as a young adult, I find it nearly impossible to believe that Anderson had no personal experience with the disorder. That's how true this book is. Extraordinary research, I suppose, or the author has closer ties to the problem than she acknowledges. Of course, it shouldn't matter.
Of course not.

I would not recommend that girls or boys ensnared in an eating disorder read this book. It would, in my opinion, be incredibly triggering and would be likely to toss them ever deeper into the thrall of starvation.

I'd suggest Wintergirls for people of all ages, deep into their recovery, reading this book in the supervision of an experienced, rock-solid therapist or counselor. And, of course, for any adult who has struggled and survived adolescent angst.

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