Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Viking Juvenile, 2009, 288 pp, ISBN: 067001110X
Lia and Cassie were best friends. They were also fierce competitors. The winner? Whoever got the skinniest first. But somewhere in the midst of their competition, their friendship faded until it was little more than a bitter memory. Despite their distance, on the night of Cassie's death, she called Lia 33 times. Lia never answered.
Now Lia is haunted by Cassie at night, and the numbers on the scale by day. No matter how fanatical she becomes, she can't escape either ghost. Surely it won't be long before she gives in to Cassie's pleas and joins her on the other side.
Wintergirls is a work of art, and Laurie Halse Anderson is an absolute master of her craft. Anderson's prose is gripping and intense. So many passages left me with a racing heart, needing to pause at the end of a passage just to take the full weight of her words. Even the unique placement and size of the words on the page add another layer of magic to the whole.
Lia's story is one that many girls will find all too familiar. She started controlling her eating as part of a friendly-ish competition, a way to prove to herself that she could be the best at something. But soon her eating habits spiraled out of her control, tearing her body and her entire family apart in the process. Anorexia is a web that draws in everyone in its path. Much like a spider's web, it is almost impossible to escape.
It's difficult to remember the last time I read a book that had such an impact on me. If you haven't read Wintergirls yet, put down whatever you are currently reading and find yourself a copy. You won't regret it, and soon you'll be encouraging all of the readers in your life to do the same.