I won this book (along with 6 others) from A.M. Supinger’s short story contest. (Thanks, A.M.!) I’ve heard rave reviews of this book before so I was excited to read it.
Blurb from Goodreads:
“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 were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she’ll disappear altogether.
In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
About the Author:
Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. You can follow her on Twitter, or find her blog here.
The Book: YA Contemporary
I have to admit I was surprised at first by the stylistic construction the author employed to emphasize the protagonist’s state of mind. By page three, I was fine. I actually think it renders the book a feeling of being not altogether there…a chopped up perception, a disoriented reflection of Lia’s mental being. Which is what our protagonist, Lia, is: a hollow shell of a teenage girl who starves herself to fill up the void inside her. She’s not altogether there. Her body image is bloatedly skewed, and her relationship with her family is so messed up she feels like a rag doll being passed from one person to the next.
When her ex-bestfriend Cassie dies in a motel room alone, Lia’s downward spiral becomes inevitable. Even though her mom, a heart transplant surgeon always too busy for her, and her dad and his new wife/stepmom, genuinely wants Lia to get better, Lia continues to deceive them by sewing quarters in her weighing robe and appearing to be the perfect, calm daughter as the pounds melt off of her. Lia also begins to see Cassie haunting her, waiting for her to die so they can be together again.
Ms. Anderson’s lyrical prose reflects Lia’s morbid thoughts. I thought it was really well done and not over the top at all. It is haunting and sad and beautiful at once. It is an insider’s peek at what could possibly go through an anorexic person’s head. I’ve read other reviews where someone complained the protagonist was too egoistic to be likable. Too selfish, too self-absorbed. But that’s why the author nailed it–people who suffer from such disorders have a distorted sense of reality.
Very well written for a sensitive subject. I give the author a big kudos for tackling such a painful and complex character, for letting us dive into the ugly truth of anorexia and bulimia, and for opening doors to others who may be going through these same experiences. Highly recommended.