Monday, September 2, 2013
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wintergirls was a hard to read book. The subject matter is one that, although has not affected me, has affected someone I know. One of my friends in Secondary School once "disappeared" for a term. The first day she disappeared, the whispers had already gone round that she was gone due to an eating disorder. While we were an all girls school where the word "diet" was heard everyday, most of us loved food so much we couldn't think of giving it up.
But yet, we do have a sort of pressure to maintain a certain weight. A blog post from XOJane that made the rounds on Facebook was called "Fat For An Asian:" The Pressure To Be Naturally Perfect. And seriously, I understand the pressure now. The average BMI for girls in my university is 19.
So Lia in Wintergirls, while she is a hard character to like, is a character that I understand. To her, losing weight is a goal, and the thinner she is, the stronger she feels. And so, while she loves her little step-sister, she's just driven by this compulsion to stop eating, and to hide her disorder for fear that she'll be made to eat again. And add that to the fact that her best friend died from bulimia, and you can see why she's haunted by her friend.
The only part of this book that I didn't really like would be the style. I think the author wants to do something like a stream-of-consciousness, but it just feels self-conscious to me. The book worked best when it was just told from first-person, without the stylistic devices. I think that for this book, a simple style would have made the horror of Lia's reality even more stark and the impact greater. Dramatising the book kind of clouded that.
Overall though, it's a thought-provoking book and faces issues that many of us struggle with.