September 29, 2012

Wintergirls: Guest Review

Najela from Brave New Adventure is back with another Psychtember post! Today she's reviewing Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Summary:  Lia's best friend, Cassie, died alone in a hotel room after running away and since then Cassie's been trying to make sense of the 33 phone calls she left that night. Lia is racked with guilt from her best friends death, but even then, she can't seem to bring herself out of the throws of her anorexia. She constantly wants to lose weight, deceiving her family into believing that she's healthier than she already is. She's already been to an inpatient care facility, going through the motions of being healthy and being okay. Her therapists are trying to unravel Lia's issues, her parents are blaming each other for Lia's issues. 

Likes: This was a chilling tale.  It was heart wrenching to see Lia trying to solve her own problems and the adults around her not being able to help. All of the characters were flawed and real. The adults were too busy blaming each other to be helpful. They just assume Lia's okay because she says she's okay, but they don't look into the subtle signs such as her cutting up her foods, the laxatives and diuretics hidden in her room, and the fact that they don't talk to her concerning her friends death. Lia was dealing not only with anorexia, but grief as well.  The two of these combine don't make a good mix and it seems that every thing that Lia deals with becomes too much and she goes to drastic measures to deal with her grief.

Psychological Aspect: The psychological aspect of this novel was chillingly real, especially towards the end when reality was blurred. Sometimes when you starve yourself long enough, you'll begin to start to hallucinate as your body starts to shut down. Anorexia is a psychological issue in which a person believes themselves to be overweight and goes to extreme measures to lose the weight they think they have. Cassie's friend suffers from an eating disorder known as bulimia,  in which someone binge eats, then purges (vomits) the food in order to stop themselves from gaining weight.

When I thought of this story, I didn't think the reasons why Lia and Cassie had eating disorders, but when I thought about it a little more to it than that. I'm not a psychologist, but within the confines of the story, the reasons were simple. They usually always are. Certainly there are enormous reasons why a psychological disorder would start, but sometimes there aren't. Cassie started copying all the girls she met at camp and Lia started copying her. They found that these acts soothed something inside of them. It's the same way someone becomes an alcoholic or a drug addict.

Writing Tip:  Psychological disorders typically don't happen overnight, it's a gradual process. The triggers don't always have to be a traumatic experience. For the sake of the story, it could be, but it would depend on where you start.

Another Book to Read: Hunger

Najela is a graduate from UC Riverside with a dual degree in Psychology and Creative Writing and finally making the most of both degrees. She works with kids and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Exceptional Student Education. She is also working on several writing projects including a Beauty and the Beast retelling webcomic coming in late October 2012. You can follow her at her website or her tumblr.
Thanks very much, Najela, for sharing your reaction to Wintergirls!

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