WINTERGIRLS is narrated by Lia, an upper middle class senior in high school. Lia has been hospitalized twice for anorexia, and is still deep in the throes of this horrific disease. She lives with her father, a college history professor and author who wants to believe Lia is fine, her stepmother, and her nine-year-old stepsister, Emma. Her mother, from whom she is semi-estranged, is a cardiac surgeon.
When the book opens, Lia has just received the news that Cassie, her long-time best friend, has been found dead in a motel room. Lia and Cassie have been estranged for several months, but the night she died, Cassie called Lia's cell phone 33 times. Lia did not answer any of these calls.
Cassie, it turns out, has died of complications related to years of bulemia. She and Lia have supported each other's eating disorders for years and years. Now Lia must battle demons of guilt. Why didn't she answer the phone when her friend called? Why did she discourage her friend from seeking help for her struggles? Why did the two girls challenge each other to see who could be the thinnest? As the last one alive, is Lia really the winner of this challenge?
Laurie Halse Anderson has done an amazing job capturing the voice of an anorexic. She captures Lia's steep descent into a dark, frozen place where there are no feelings, and consequently no hurt. Maybe more importantly, she captures that one moment when Lia decides to come back from this dark forest, to a place of light and hope.
I know this book is going to be a huge hit when it comes out. I imagine thousands and thousands of girls reading it and somehow finding the courage to fight their own demons. I am going to mail my copy to my sweet niece tomorrow. I'm going to buy copies for my sons' high school and middle school teachers. It's a book every teenage girl needs to have available.