"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Summary: A anorexic struggles with the death of her former friend while struggling to lose even more weight.

I hated this book and can tell you exactly why.

The writing is florid and over-blown:
“The snow drifts into our zombie mouths with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. For one breath everything feels better.”
Lia is 18 years old and living with her step-mother Jennifer, her half-sister Emma and her father after her parents’ divorce.
“The breakup with my mother was the same old story a million times. Girl is born, girl learns to talk and walk, girl mispronounces words and falls down. Over and over again. Girl forgets to eat, fails adolescence, mother washes her hands of Girl, scrubbing with surgical soap and a brush for three full minutes then gloving up before handing her over to specialists and telling them to experiment at will. When they let her out, Girl rebels.”
But Lia is even lying to herself. She doesn't "forget" to eat. She chooses not to eat. Lia is institutionalized at an eating disorder clinic following a car accident she got into because her brain was too fogged to accurately drive and her body to weak to react or steer. When she gets out, she’s so angry at her mom, whom she addresses as Dr. Marrigan, that Lia chooses to live with her father and Jennifer and Emma.

I’m sure that the websites for anorexics and bulimics that Lia follows are real. I found them disgusting and disturbing.

I was hoping for a window into the mind of an anorexic.
“I started coming here after the first prison clinic stay because Dr. N Parker is a scam artist specialist in crazy teenagers troubled adolescents. I opened my mouth during the first couple of visits and gave her a key to open my head. Ginormous mistake. She brought her lantern and a hard hat and lots of rope to wander through my caves. She landed land mines in my skull that detonated weeks later.”
And much of the writing is like that - italics, strikethrus, lies. Instead of the chapters having headings or numbers, they look like weights. 085.00  Here's a sledgehammer.

Instead, I read about a spoiled little rich girl, who likely drove her former best friend to cause her own stomach to explode from bulimia. She feels guilty, and she should.

Lia doesn’t really want to get well.

So I’m afraid I had little sympathy for her. Her grandmother dies. Tons of grandparents do. Her father cheats. Tons of fathers cheat. Her parents get divorced. Tons of parents get divorced. But tons of girls don’t make crazy pacts with their best friend about who can be the skinniest. One friend chooses anorexia and one choose bulimia. And one freakin’ dies!

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