Wintergirls is a tale written with teenagers in mind looking at eating disorders. We all felt it was a good read – the story certainly pulled you through. We see the world from the point of view of Lia, a teenager who is supposedly in recovery after being hospitalised for anorexia, and the story opens with Lia learning that her friend Cassie has just been found dead in a motel room. Lia’s voice is angry, hurt and lost and we gradually learn what brought her to this state.
The book puts over Lia’s thought processes and inner conflict – the voices and ghosts that pursue her; her determination to demonstrate that she is strong; the ways in which she deceives her family; her obsession with numbers and her editing of her own thoughts (illustrated through crossings out in the text). There are food and size related metaphors and similies. The impact on her family also comes out: her stepmother’s struggles, her mother’s despair and her father’s reluctance to admit what is happening.
Lia and Cassie competed with each other over who can be the thinnest, and to begin with the reader was led to feel one or other was the instigator but gradually you see that they were supporting each other, and we also see the importance of online chatrooms in affirming the cycle of behaviour that anorexic girls
In the acknowledgements Anderson tells us that the book is inspired by the stories of countless readers who had written to her about their struggles with eating disorders and cutting, and that the accuracy of her account of Lia’s psychological and physical state had been checked by a psychotherapist in the field.