I chose to read Wintergirls
when I did because I had just finished two long novels in a perfect series. I didn't want to read anything similar to the books I had just finished so that I wouldn't make comparisons; impossible to do when books are as different as Wintergirls
and The Kingkiller Chronicle
are. I didn't expect to like or dislike Wintergirls
. Actually, I didn't really expect anything of it, especially since I didn't know what it was about when I began reading it. However, it sucked me right in and I finished it in a few hours broken up over the span of two days.
Lia and Cassie were best friends growing up. One year, at twelve-years-old, on New Year's Eve, they swore a pact to be the thinnest girls. Cassie binged and purged, while Lia was stronger than the foods she craved, and kept herself empty and strong. After the friendship fell apart and the two no longer talked, they both stayed Wintergirls; fragile, frozen, thin and cold, but didn't share their secrets about how to keep their bones jutting up just under their paper-skin with each other anymore.
Lia gets the news that Cassie was found dead in a motel room and feels guilty despite not knowing the details of Cassie's death. Cassie had called Lia the night she died, she called her 33 times, left messages, but Lia did not answer, and her guilt keeps Cassie alive in her head, haunted by her ex-best friend who encourages her to keep losing weight, keep getting closer to death's door, get thin enough to join Cassie just on the other side of life.
Straight-up, this book is depressing. It's horribly depressing, and if you're insecure about your weight, it's probably not a good book to read, mostly due to the fact that it's essentially a how-to guide for anorexia and hiding the tell-tale signs. It is dark and dangerous and sad and haunting, but it is written in such flowery language that it very nearly reads as a poem, which somehow makes it better. Lia compares her emptiness to strength (she's so strong, she can bake cookies and muffins and not let a grain of sugar touch her tongue) with when she was a real girl and she didn't only think about numbers. Muffins (270) or the weight she's supposed to be (110.00) or the weight she is (097.00) or how many times Cassie called her that night (126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.33.).
The story is well-written and Lia's voice is unique and beautiful. There's a lot of emotion in this story, and despite feeling somewhat hollow while reading it, at the end my throat clenched up with emotion at the final page turning to reveal the end of the story.
This is a good book, but I do not recommend it for people who are recovering from eating disorders. While telling the story of two people who were beyond sick with eating disorders, it essentially encourages anorexia and bulimia, as it is written in the character's voice and that is what she believes is the right way to lose weight, to be beautiful. If you want to read a good story about someone who would kill themselves to be thin, for the view of a person with an eating disorder and how it affects them, their family, their friends, and the rest of their life, this book is spot-on. Your choice, as always. :)
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