Summary and book reviews of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2010, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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About this Book

Book Summary

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores a girl's descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.


Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Chapter One

So she tells me, the words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee.

She tells me in four sentences. No, five.

I can’t let me hear this, but it’s too late. The facts sneak in and stab me. When she gets to the worst part

…body found in a motel room, alone…

…my walls go up and my doors lock. I nod like I’m listening, like we’re communicating, and she never knows the difference.

It’s not nice when girls die.

Chapter Two

“We didn’t want you hearing it at school or on the news.” Jennifer crams the last hunk of muffin into her mouth. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

I open the dishwasher and lean into the cloud of steam that floats out of it. I wish I could crawl in and curl up between a bowl and a plate. My stepmother Jennifer could lock the door, twist the dial to scald, and press on.
...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions

  1. Read the two epigraphs printed at the front of the book. How do you think each relates to Lia and her situation?
  2. What do the crossed-out words and phrases reveal about Lia? Why can't she allow herself to say or think some things? What is she afraid will happen if she does?
  3. Define "wintergirl." In what ways are Lia and Cassie frozen? Discuss the symbolism of winter and cold found throughout the story and the role it plays in building the main themes of the novel.
  4. Does Lia want to lose weight so she will look thin and pretty? What does her thinness mean to her? How does she think it gives her power?
  5. Does Cassie's death trigger Lia's restrictive eating patterns ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The "place" author Laurie Halse Anderson takes us is not an exotic setting in a distant world, but instead deep into the mind of young Lia, who suffers from an eating disorder. Lia's first-person narration is so authentic it is hard to believe it's fiction and not an actual memoir... Lia and Cassie's story opens the door to discussions of issues all teens struggle with: finding their identity, belonging and making wise choices.   (Reviewed by Vy Armour).

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Media Reviews

The New York Times

a fearless, riveting account of a young woman in the grip of a deadly illness.

Sun Sentinel - Margaret Cardillo

[A] beautiful, heart-wrenching and important novel.

Publishers Weekly

As difficult as reading this novel can be, it is more difficult to put down. Ages 12-up.

BCCB

Starred Review. Readers will be absorbed by this gripping tale

Booklist

Starred Review. Anderson illuminates a dark but utterly realistic world...this is necessary reading.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Due to the author's and the subject's popularity, this should be a much-discussed book, which rises far above the standard problem novel.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. The intensity of emotion and vivid language here are more reminiscent of Anderson's Speak than any of her other works ... an almost poetic stream of consciousness in [a] startlingly crisp and pitch-perfect first-person narrative.

Reader Reviews

Samantha

Amazing!
I love it! I would suggest it. Although I've been through some of the stuff in this book, so to me it makes sense. Some people may be confused.

LOVED IT

AMAZING!!!!!!!
One of the best books I've ever read! Really connects with the reader.

McKenna

AMAZING!
I fell in love with this book from the beginning. Its relatable, plus if you love edgy stories with a bit of mystery, its the book for you that you will want to read over and over.

SeanLeah

5 doesn't describe how great this book is!
My cousin recommended this book to me because she thought of me when she read it because I actually relate to the main character in this story, perhaps that's why I liked it so much but I would for sure recommend it to anyone! Super easy to read!...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

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 ...

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