In Wintergirls we meet Lia, 18 years old and the skinniest girl in her school. Lia and her best friend Cassie make a vow when they are twelve to be the skinniest girls in their class and this has come to pass. Because of years of struggling with their weight issues/eating disorders, Cassie has developed a severe case of bulimia, so severe in fact, that it takes her life. Lia, on the other hand, lives on, but with a severe case of anorexia... among other things. When Cassie is found dead, alone in a hotel room, Lia can’t help feeling guilt, she was the last person Cassie reached out to and she did not answer her calls. Shortly thereafter, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit who is taunting her and pressuring her to eat less and less and join her.
I never could imagine the struggle that someone like Lia is going through. Her internal dialogue, debating on what to eat (or not eat). The calorie counting, the blogs created by others like her, the constant weighing in (and the lengths she goes through to appear that she isn't losing weight when she has to weigh in), the changes her body was going through (it’s amazing what our bodies will do to adapt and live). Reading about how she longs to be able to simply eat and not obsess over every single bite of food, the hundreds of sit-ups and hours on the stair climber....
Kudos to Laurie Halse Anderson for tackling this difficult subject matter in such an honest and unflinching way. I started to think that this should be recommended reading for any teen girl - but I think that someone who is already predisposed to eating disorders or inclined to self-mutilate, might read this book and have it act as a "trigger" to such behaviors.
It was so hard to read, but even more difficult to stop reading. It's honest. It's explicit. It's raw. I liked it.