Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Unfortunately, I can't find a cover for this book anywhere[FOUND IT!] but I blew through Wintergirls, which is Laurie Halse Anderson's next book, due for release in March, 2009. While others were apparently whooping it up in San Antonio at NCTE this past week, I was devouring ARCs while I didn't have any children or students around me. I have to say that this is Anderson's BEST, BEST, BEST work, and I have read everything, starting with Speak. I have always loved Laurie Halse Anderson, but this newest work is exquisite and haunting.
Lia is an 18 year-old high school senior who learns on the first page that her ex-best friend was found dead in a hotel room. What follows is a haunting tale of Lia's struggle to keep her weight above the danger zone (she's been in the anorexia rehab place twice already) and her attempt to keep Cassie - the dead Cassie- from following her.
Lia's refers to her own mother as "Dr. Morrigan". After the mother-daughter falling-out, Lia was sent to live with her dad and stepmother, Jennifer, and Jennifer's daughter, Emma. Most of the book is spent inside Lia's head as she tries to avoid eating so she can get under 100 pounds, preferrably less. Additionally, Lia cuts herself to ease her pain. She wanders to the hotel where Cassie was found dead and adds another layer to the mystery surrounding Cassie's death. Also, Lia discovers that even though she and Cassie hadn't spoken in over three months, Cassie left 33 messages on Lia's cell phone the night she died.
While the story is incredibly moving and intense, it is Anderson's sparse prose, word repetition and incessant labeling of calories after each food Lia records eating that helps you understand the disturbance of the main character. She needs help but refuses. Lia also sees Cassie wherever she goes and has conversations with her which add a layer of almost magical realism to the story. The ending will keep riveted through any disturbance, right to the last word, where you want to start again from page one immediately. I am a HUGE fan of Speak and recommend it to every single 8th grader I teach- the novel is that important to me. However, Anderson may have equalled or surpassed importance with Wintergirls. Another important book that parents and teens should BOTH read!