Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Young Adult
Published: March 19, 2009
"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the halls.
"Tell us your secret," the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend's restless spirit.
In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.
I am not sure how to review this book. I love angst books. This one hit me really hard. I got a bout 1/3 of the way into it and couldn't stop crying, so I put it aside for awhile and picked up and nice werewolf book. I did get back to it and finished it last night.
It is so good and so gut-wrenching. This poor girl and book has it all: anorexia, mental illness, cutting, suicide. And she keeps it all locked up inside her. Her once best-friend Cassie dies in an assumed suicide (perhaps I just assumed it), then haunts Lia (is she really there? really ghost? or is it just Lia's creation?) Cassie encourages all Lia's weaknesses and self-doubt.
There is a litany of voices that run through her mind:
Lia has been hospitailized twice for anorexia, and has learned to play the game to show the outside world she is healing, while inside she is spinning out of control. She sews quarters into the pockets of her bathrobe to fool her step-mother that her weight is stable. Meanwhile she plays games with herself. Goals of getting down to 99 lbs, 95 lbs, 90lbs, etc. She knows 85lbs is "dangerland," but can't stop herself.
"If I could get down to 070.00, I'd want 065.00. If I weighed 010.00, I wouldn't be happy until I got down to 005.00. The only number that would ever be enough is 0. Zero pounds, zero life, size zero, double-zero, zero point. Zero in tennis is love. I finally get it." (page 220)
Yes, in the end she realizes that she needs more help than she can give herself and that she is out of control. She has to reach out for that help and be honest with what is in her head and share that with the people can help her. Is it a happy ending? Sort of. It is a step in the right direction.
This is a beautiful book written in an extremely visually appealing style. It may be too brutal for someone that is in the same place as Lia. But I am not even close to being an expert in making that judgement.
I read "Fever 1793" years ago and it remains on my top list of books. Now I am going to have to go back and read everything in between.
My to-be-read pile now needs its own set of bookshelves.