I cannot breathe.


There was a completely different post scheduled for today, but this weekend, I realized that it was #readformentalhealthweek and there was no way I was going to post run of the mill stuff this week. NO WAY. So I pulled up Goodreads Listopia and went to town. And of course…I went through 50 books before I found one that my library had available online:  Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.


Because I…can’t…breathe….

Anderson has, of course, made her way into my perephrial vision; and I have a few of her books on my TBR list. But until now I thought she was just another fluffy YA romance author, along the lines of Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get to her.


While researching books for this week, I saw one review call her “The Jodi Picoult of YA,” which really isn’t too far off. She covers big, emotional issues in hardhitting ways. In Wintergirls, Lia not only battles the recent death of her best friend, but also a life-threatening eating disorder. Her family struggles to help her, but in Lia’s mind they are just tearing her apart.

Lia’s stream-of-consciousness narration literally takes your breath away as she spirals downdowndown. Every calorie she counts, every mental correction she makes–it all becomes so obsessive compulsive that you just need to reach out the book and grab onto her, but you can’t.

Anderson has brilliantly incorporated “Tumblr-speak” into Wintergirls, which normally drives me crazy. However, because she uses it as Lia’s steady climax towards destruction, it greatly increases the anxiety for the reader. The more deterioration in Lia’s stream-of-consciousness, the nearer her imminent breakdown. It’s a pretty fantastic writing device, when used correctly, and she does it SO WELL.

I need to add, for obvious reasons, this book is extremely triggering. I’m not kidding when I said I cannot breathe. There were times during this book when I had to stop and walk away for a few minutes. If these things trigger you, proceed with caution:  anorexia, bulimia, eating disorders of any kind, depression, anxiety, cutting, suicide, obsessive compulsive disorder. Let me know if I need to add to this list. I don’t always add a trigger list to my blog posts, but when it is a book like this…I feel it deserves one.

Again, proceed with the caution you need to take, but there is some power to be gained from reading Wintergirls. Anderson’s message is much the same as the one I give over and over again here at I Lay Reading:

“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”

And for that message, and the brilliant writing, Wintergirls gets 5 Book Dragons.



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