Aly in Wonderland


Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson Read reviews and more at The Beautiful World of Books!

"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the hall.
"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 library aide who hides in Fantasy.
I am the circus freak encased in beeswax.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Books like this should come with a trigger warning. It's not hard to slap one on the first page in bold writing. It's not fair for those who don't want to read about self-harm and anorexia but end up reading it anyway. Publishers, where's the problem? For this reason, I am letting you know that there are triggers in this review. If you feel uncomfortable with self-harm, anorexia and mental illness, please read no further.

Wintergirls tackles a topic quite close to my heart -- anorexia. I shan't delve into details as to why it's such an important topic for me, but I am glad that Laurie Halse Anderson didn't romanticise the illness like I first expected. For that, I am grateful.

Anorexia is a mental illness. It is an eating disorder. It is life threatening and fatal. It is a topic that isn't tackled in the world. Too many girls, especially in these past couple of years, succumb to anorexia nervosa in the race to achieving the perfect body. Unfortunately, society today says you're pretty only if you have a thigh gap wide enough to stick someone's head through and wrists you can circle using your pinky. It's unhealthy, and there isn't enough awareness of this in the world.

Lia is one of those girls. She made a vow to be the skinniest girl in school. And she went to desperate measures to achieve her perfect body at a shocking 075.00:

The scale shows up on the floor, the good one, the one that does not lie. I strip, stand on it, to weigh my faults and measure my sins.
I could say I'm excited, but that would be a lie. The number doesn't matter. If I got down to 070.00, I'd want 065.00. If I weight 010.00, I wouldn't be happy until I got 005.00. The only number that would ever be enough is 0.

She is on the verge of losing her mind. Not enough nutrition or water affects your head, the way you think and act, and it pushes you down the road of a different mental illness. She thinks she can see her very dead, very gone best friend:

Cassie's fingers curl around it.
My heart stutters.
She squeezes the green disc tightly, then she blinks - once, twice - opens her eyes wide, and looks straight at me. She reaches up and touches her hair. It comes out of her head like dandelion fluff.
I cannot breathe.

And she keeps track of her calorie intake in an alarming fashion. Nothing escapes her vision:

I eat in my car: die soda (0) + lettuce (15) + 8 tablespoons of salsa (40) + hard-boiled egg white (16) = lunch (71).

She won't let herself have more than 500 calories a day. For a woman's body to survive, we need 2000. It's insane how dedicated she is to, essentially, killing herself.

Her best friend is dead:

"... body found in a motel room, alone..."

And there's only one way to stop the raging voices in her head and the visions of her dead best friend stalking her, urging her to take that one last step so she can cross over...

I pick up the knife.
The tendons on the back of my hand tense, ropes holding down a tent while the wind blows. Thin scars etch the inside of my wrist, widening to the ribbons in the crook of my elbow where I cut too deep in ninth grade.
I win, I won.

This book is not to be taken lightly. It took my longer to read than your average book and it drained me emotionally. You are inside the head of a mentally unstable girl, so be sure you have a strong enough stomach to read this book.

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