There is a trigger warning attached to this post. If you don’t want to read about Eating Disorders (ED) or if you find the mere mention of the topic triggering, please go check out another post. You can find so many other reviews on Jasper + Spice here.
I’m not sure how to intro this, so I’m going to just dive straight into the review. Enjoy.
Blurb: “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.
- I want to preface this review by saying that this is just a book review and I am in no way an expert on ED. When I mention that things are “accurate”, I am only speaking from experience.
- Please, please don’t go into novels such as Wintergirls with the intent of learning how to restrict your eating. If this is your intent, please speak to someone.
- I love you all and if you feel that you need to speak to someone, the following website has dozens of links for mental health services for Australians; https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-links
Now that I feel good that I have prefaced this review appropriately, let’s dive into the review.
I picked up this novel because I had been looking for books with a protagonist that was suffering from ED and in all honesty, I wasn’t sure that it was going to be any good in portraying the mind of someone with an eating disorder accurately. To me, putting thoughts to paper accurately is the hardest thing for me to do.
I don’t know how Anderson did it or what place the story had come from, but the entire story was told from Lia’s point of view and whenever she spoke, it was as if her thoughts were translated directly onto the page.
It’s so difficult to accurately write out the thoughts of someone with a mental illness and I’ve only seen another author do this in the novel Fierce Fragile Hearts. Stories and portrayals of fact in the form of fiction like this is perfect for people who don’t fully understand the mental illness in question. They’re able to read on the page, the pain and stress the character is under and read/see how assaulted someone can be by their own mind, especially if that is something that the reader has (thankfully) not experienced.
Novels like Wintergirls are powerful. They’re validating and help recognise a group of people whose illnesses are misunderstood. I very much liked the ending where there was a little bit of talk of recovery, but the entire reason behind the recovery was 100% realistic and on Lia’s terms (aka not forced).
I’m focusing on speaking about how the representation was perfect because that was my feeling throughout the novel. My entire thought as I was reading was; “I need to tell everyone how accurate Lia’s thoughts are for someone who restricts their eating.”
I felt that the novel was written in a respectful and educative manner. It was not aiming to shock or trigger anyone reading it and if people who don’t understand the thoughts of someone with an eating disorder pick this novel up, it will give them an insight into the mind, thoughts and actions of someone with ED.
While I do say that this novel is an important insight into the mind of someone with an eating disorder, people who aren’t restricting their eating should still be careful when reading novels such as Wintergirls which realistically mimic the mind of someone who is struggling, should exercise caution as this could give people non-sufferers ideas or encourage readers to mimic these actions.
Eating disorders are fkn scary. Sufferers don’t know that they’re hurting themselves and it’s sometimes up to other people to realise and take action to help them. I’ve never seen a character with an eating disorder written in such a truthful and non-harmful light making Wintergirls actually enjoyable to read.
The other aspect of this novel, the paranormal side, was interesting. I interpreted her visions as two things; guilt and hallucinations caused my not eating.
I found it a really interesting addition as the story wasn’t really a journey of Lia’s eating disorder recovery – you don’t even think she is going to recover by the end of the novel as there is no inclination of her wanting to. Instead, Wintergirls is a story about Lia, a girl suffering from anorexia, trying to process the death of her long-time best friend.
Agh! I loved this book so much and really appreciate that it is actually real and available for people to read and learn from.
★ Rating & Ending Note.
★★★★★ (5/5 stars). I don’t know what else to say really. I do want to share this one quote towards the end of the novel about recovery that hit me really hard;
“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 cried while reading this because I’d never read a truer line in a novel. Personally, I’d never had anyone tell me that it would get better overnight and I’d fall back down a thousand times before I’d get back up. I had to learn that for myself and that’s why this line resonated with me.
You don’t remember how you felt before hating yourself but you’ll always remember the bad voices in your head and the disgust at the scales, the mirror, food but suddenly the mirror isn’t lying to you, the voices aren’t as loud anymore; the scales don’t matter and food is exciting and fun.
I just want to say that to anyone who is reading this post and may be suffering from an eating disorder/ restricted eating for whatever reason. You are not hated, you are beautiful and you are strong, your life has meaning and my DMs (Instagram + Twitter) are always open to chat.
Jasper + Spice is a safe space for people suffering from a mental illness. All posts that may possibly contain triggering content will have a warning attached to them.
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).