terça-feira, 5 de março de 2013

Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson [Review]

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback


Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss—her life—and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, awardwinning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all—hope.


It’s been a long, long time since the last time I felt like this with a book. And truth be told, I never even thought about the mere possibility of such a story having the power to reduce me to ashes, to tears, to despair, to little, small pieces of myself. This novel is a powerful life in words; is a heartbreaking leading character that could easily be our best friend, our daughter or sister, our cousin. And is that exact sense of close reality, of strong authenticity that takes this book to a complete new level of emotions and rage. It is not good. It is not great. This novel is a lifesaver. Is a bible. Is an amazing fictional story that could portrait any of us. No doubt in my mind that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read… and I didn’t liked Speak that much—which is saying a lot to any Laurie Halse Anderson’s fan.
One of the reasons why I initially was a bit suspicious about reading Wintergirls was exactly that—not having felt such a big connection with the previous Anderson’s novel, Speak. Maybe because it was too short, maybe because it was written in a way I couldn’t bond, I don’t know, but, for me, there was—and still is—something missing in that book. And due to that, I was scared to find the same kind of plot, of writing, of character again in this new novel. But oh boy, I was wrong. So very wrong.

If I had to categorize this book, I would say it is unbelievably raw, so intensely cruel but in the most beautiful and touching way possible. The writing is so stunningly lyrical and Lia… Lia is such a damaged girl, trapped in an unwanted body, in a haunted mind, that everything she does, everything she thinks or imagines comes out so shattering and broken that soon the reader can’t seem to find enough strength to support her and all he/she wants to do is to help her open her eyes and see the reality of life as it is and not the counting of calories or the wideness of her hips and thighs.

Lia’s voice is so intoxicating! So many times I felt numb, cut off all emotions and sensations, towards her wishes, her goals, but at the same time, so immensely attracted to her mind, to her thoughts and strict personality. I believe she was just a scared girl. Yes, was. Scared to end up like Cassie and disappointing every single person she felt couldn’t care less about her. Scared to fail her promise, to go against her own sick will. Scared of hurting, of suffering, of emotional pain and so, instead of embracing all the good and the bad, she would focus on getting thinner, on providing only a small amount of life, of substance to her body so that everything could go away and her mind, her awareness could be fragile enough to protect her from any kind of anguish. Cassie’s death was the end of the line for her, was the bullet in the gun she has had close to her head since the moment she met her, she met herself—and that is so marvellously disturbing.

This is not an easy book to read. Actually, this book is everything but easy or comfortable or straightforward. I had to put it down a couple of times just to take a deep breath and get focus again, ‘cause it truly is an affecting reading.  I know I couldn’t help myself to feel angry at Lia and her parents—especially her father for not caring more, not doing more—but I also know that reality is exactly like this. People are so blind and so centred in their own lives and issues that these type of struggles, of diseases are so many times mistaken as having problems at school or with a boy or even has having a bad day—when is so much more than that.
I strongly believe I loved Wintergirls this much because it was a hard reading with a tough story. If everything was simple and if Lia, as an anorexic and cutter, was a happy and popular girl, I’m sure this book wouldn’t have the same impact has portraying her as so many girls are in real life. And I sincerely hope, with all my heart, that all those girls out there who are trying to fight the disease or who are still in agony thinking that not eating is the solution, can find in this book, in this story, the strength needed to overcome all the obstacles and difficulties. You are not alone. You are strong. Be more. Be much more than just an empty shell.

«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.»

«I failed eating, failed drinking, failed not cutting myself into shreds. Failed friendship. Failed sisterhood and daughterhood. Failed mirrors and scales and phone calls. Good think I’m stable.»

«We swore sacred oaths to be strong and to save the planet and to be friends forever.»

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