When eighteen-year-old Lia's former best friend Cassie is found dead in a motel room, Lia tells everyone that the news doesn't bother her. After all, she and Cassie haven't been friends for a very long time. Not since Cassie's mother drove them apart, claiming that Lia was a bad influence on her daughter. But while Lia pretends that she's okay, inside, she's falling apart. She's already been hospitalized twice for anorexia, but now she's learned how to say the right things and look like she's playing by all the right rules and even though she keeps dropping weight, no one seems to notice. Only when Cassie's ghost appears and begs Lia to kill herself and join Cassie on the other side does Lia begin to understand that she's not ready to give up on her life just yet.
On the plus side, Anderson once again draws the reader inside the head of a teenage girl on the brink of collapse. And it's not a fun place to be. The torture that Lia puts herself, and her family, through is almost unbearable to read. Outwardly, Lisa manages to convince her distant parents that she's fine, but inwardly, her thoughts twist and writhe like Medusa's snakes. Slowly, Lia is being pulled down to a place where she cannot survive, and she takes the reader with her. This is definitely a gripping book!
But at the same time, I've read this story before. In fact, anyone who's read a Laurie Halse Anderson book has. Although Wintergirls
is interesting, it comes dangerously close to being a formula novel ala Speak
. I'd love to see Anderson stretch and write about someone other than a teenage girl in crisis. To me, the secondary character, a young man who has a big heart and light fingers, was far more interesting than self-absorbed, angst-ridden Lia. I'll probably continue to read Anderson's novels, but unless she comes up with another story line, I won't be completely satisfied.