Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 278 pages
Published: 2009 (2011 UK Release)

This was one of those books that I didn't know existed and yet had been somehow surrounded with quotes from it without realising. The writing is that beautiful and lyrical in this novel that snippets can be found all over Pinterest and Tumblr. Naturally, as soon as I realised that these golden lines were actually part of a book I headed straight to my nearest Waterstones and picked it up. I couldn't wait for online delivery, I wanted it now.

The story centres around Lia, an eighteen year old girl with anorexia. At the beginning of the novel we discover that Lia's best friend Cassie has died due to complications with bulimia. Due to Cassie calling Lia 33 times moments before her death, Lia is wracked with guilt and Cassie begins to haunt her. Or rather, Lia begins to hallucinate her. Anorexia and bulimia aren't the only difficult issues tackled in this book, though. Self-harm and depression are also under-lying themes. This book isn't really a plot-driven one, though, it's more emotion-driven. Lia's heart-wrenching yet realistic thoughts grip you until you've read the very last page. I finished this book in literally a few hours, simply because I had to learn her fate.
Lia's appearance isn't ever stated clearly, and she finds it incredibly difficult to look in the mirror, often flinching when she does. A few lines here and there obviously hint towards the fact that she sees her body much differently than everyone else - at one point, she insists that her arms are logs where-as everyone else views them as twigs - but during a beautifully written and heart-wrenching scene, she describes her body in a way that paints the painful picture of anorexia properly. I don't find that it distracts from her character, though. My only issue is her lack of characterisation. All we know about this girl are her disorders. I'd love to read a biography on her, to really learn about her childhood and her likes and dislikes etc. Despite this, though, I found myself compelled by her and my heart truly ached for her.
Cassie is an interesting character, although we only ever see her during Lia's hallucinations as she had died prior to the beginning of the story. I found myself yearning to learn more about her, too, as we didn't ever learn anything about her besides her struggle with bulimia. The male who befriends Lia during this novel is far, far from the love-interest. In fact, I kind of hated him by the end of the book. He doesn't hold much purpose in my eyes, except to help the plot along regarding the Motel where Cassie was found dead. Lia's relationship with her younger sister, Emma, is beautiful to read as it's really authentic and very cute. The parental figures in Lia's life are also very realistic, and all of them hold a different view of Lia's disorder, rather than carrying the same mind-set.
But what made me adore this book was the writing. Even if you take away the difficult issues, this novel is beautifully written. It's poetic and lyrical but it still makes sense. The useage of different punctuation and font styles was brilliant, using italics, smaller sizes and struck-out text to really show off how erratically Lia's thoughts run. The use of numbers following Lia's meals reveal how much she really thinks about the calories that she's eating and shows how difficult it is to live with this disorder. So much raw emotion was packed into such a short book, it was so brutal and honest and chilling. I highly recommend this novel to everyone. Even if you have no experience with mental disorders such as depression or anorexia, this book is an eye-opener and shines a light on a subject that is far too often ignored. I have to admit though, this book has the opportunity to be very triggering to anyone dealing with issues like these, or even ones similar. I have personal experience with some of the things mentioned in the novel and I found it difficult to read at times, so definitely proceed with caution.
I gave this book 4/5 stars! The extra star could have been earned through a more developed character.

If you liked Wintergirls, I'd recommend Asking For It by Louise O'Neill and Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.

Websites & Phone Numbers that offer advice and support on the issues tackled in this book, including Anorexia, Self-Harm and Depression:
Samaritans: offers confidential and non-judgemental support 24/7 via their phonelines, available to residents of the UK. Helpline: 0845 790 9090. Website:
B-eat: the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders. Helpline: 0845 634 1414. Website:
Mind: offers support and information to anyone with any mental health problem, including anxiety, depression, bulimia and anorexia.


  1. I remember hearing about this book when it first came out, but just never properly looked into it. I think I'll have to add this to my reading list now though because it does sound like a good read!

    1. It's definitely very intense, but I really enjoyed it!


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