Wintergirls a sad tale but nothing new here

AVIDREADERS YA BOOK CLUB : January 2013. Kelowna Secondary School

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling story of a friendship frozen between life and death

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope.

20130121-102954.jpgI would not naturally have chosen Wintergirls except for being part of our school’s YA club selection. oath rolled or despised, the opinion of a book is not the value in a book club but the expansion of experience and community. My horizon was indeed expanded with Andersobook recent book but I droid not enjoy it. I just read Columbine by Dave Cullen, story story assessment of the high school killing in Colorado. I was disturbed and didn’t ‘enjoy’ the book but would rate it 5 of 5.

I’m very interested to hear what students say about it next month at our luncheon because I was rather unmoved throughout despite the very sad and grippy topic. Maybe it was the author’s intermittent attempts at poetic structures that distracted me.

“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.

The big typography trick that just ruined it for me- the strike text was so freakin annoying I had an issue because it was really hideous and unnecessary irritating and distractingand served no purpose whatsoever and FAILED to symbolize the madness of her mind but rather makes me think Anderson was the nutty one. What about the trivial? Those calorie counting chapter pages in the footer? The re-occurring integers (0.001, 0.002, 0.003), weigh scales, seemed a little gratuitous to me but perhaps I’m being a cynic and unfairly picky.

Despite wanting to bond with Lia and wishing to befriend her trial, I found her just too shallow. The author failed, in my opinion to develop her humanity choosing to over emphasize her self-absorbed behaviours. Those behaviours are critical to the tragic narrative but the protagonist ( if she is to be one) must be represented by more. Perhaps that is the point of the disease but I felt the author never develops the character enough for my sensibility. I struggled to acquire any honest sympathy or compassion for Lia. I didn’t find an explanation for her self-hatred and never was illuminated into why she dangerously needed to express control over her life. If Anderson is an advocate fir eating disorders shouldn’t some hope and education be layered into her story?

I suppose I just don’t connect with Halse Anderson? I’m a fervent fighter against rape but I also did not like Speak. I would much rather an author take on these topics front on with non-fiction writing or write fiction with a less self-absorbed theatrics. Maybe that’s just the nature of the genre or perhaps the perspective of the reader. This book obviously reads differently through the lens of a middle-aged male’s world view. That is my argument for book clubs and literature in general- to widen opportunities of world view.

I’m sure it’s a ‘guy thing’ but this man battled with her anguish over obsessive thinness. Showcasing thin in everything (wanting to crawl into the warm space between the plate and saucer in dishwasher) I understand that is the point of the illness, like the alcoholic who cannot see beyond the next sip, but I found the narrative and metaphors just too obvious to be engrossing as a read. This could have a good short story and not a novel.

It seems the author writes well enough considering this treacherous topic and is careful not to embellish trigger behaviours that might harm girls(boys) in a vulnerable state but I don’t understand eating disorders enough to comment.

Wintergirls may be a creative effort to highlight a tragic social illness but apparently she is claiming she also suffered from an I eating disorder. If so, I’m less sympathetic to an effort that doesn’t provide enough insight or solutions and focuses more on the very obsession that manifests it.

If you appreciated Wintergirls you might like LibraryThing > or Novelist >

– Mr. a. sMith

Follow me at @literateowl or Follow KSSLIBRARY at @kssreads

Also you may enjoy reviews by our KSS Contributor

Leave a constructive reply...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s