Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Wintergirls

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Wintergirls

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2010, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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Anderson Wins Teen Lit Award
Laurie Halse Anderson is the winner of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award for her novels Catalyst, Fever 1793, and Speak. She will be honored at the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) 2009 Annual ALA Conference in Chicago, July 9-15, 2009.

Criteria used to select winners of this award are as follows:

  1. Does the book(s) help adolescents to become aware of themselves and to answer their questions about their role and importance in relationships, society and in the world?
  2. Is the book(s) of acceptable literary quality?
  3. Does the book(s) satisfy the curiosity of young adults and yet help them thoughtfully to build a philosophy of life?
  4. Is the book(s) currently popular with a wide range of young adults in the many different parts of the country?
  5. Do the book or books serve as a "window to the world" for young adults?"
"Laurie Halse Anderson masterfully gives voice to teen characters undergoing transformations in their lives through their honesty and perseverance while finding the courage to be true to themselves," said Edwards Committee Chair David Mowery.

More information & resources Eating Disorders
Lia's anorexia and Cassie's bulimia represent two of the three most common eating disorders identified by the National Mental Health Information Center. Ninety percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25, but they can also manifest in teenage boys, and adult men and women of all ages. It's estimated that as many as 10% of young women in some populations suffer from an eating disorder, and far more exhibit what are called disordered eating behaviors, though they may not warrant clinical diagnosis.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex psychiatric disorder, characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, a distorted body image, and rigorous rules and systems for denying hunger. A clinical diagnosis follows when the affected person's body weight is at least 15 percent below what is considered normal, and when, in women, there is an absence of at least three consecutive menstrual periods. The physical stress of forced starvation can lead to numerous serious medical conditions, including osteoporosis, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, infertility, increased risk of miscarriage, and damage to the heart and other organs. Anorexia nervosa has one of the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric disorders, with rates reported from 5% to 18%, the majority due to suicide.

Bulimia nervosa is a related psychiatric disorder. Instead of restricting food by denial, bulimics binge on an excessive amount of food in a short amount of time, and then purge through self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives, diuretics or other drugs, fasting, or excessive exercise.

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of compulsive overeating, but unlike bulimics, binge-eaters do not purge their bodies of food. During binges they often eat alone and feel shame or guilt over their actions.

Resources and further information:

Article by Vy Armour

This article was originally published in May 2009, and has been updated for the March 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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