The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. For one breath everything feels better.
This was such an amazing, profound, and sad read. I got sucked into the story instantly and literally couldn’t put down my kindle until I finished the book some hours later.
Lia, the protagonist, suffers from anorexia, her once-best friend Cassie dies from bulimia. The story is written in the first perspective from Lia’s view, and she takes us through her life, her emotions, and her obsession of thinness.
The only number that would be enough is 0. Zero pounds, zero life, size zero, double-zero, zero point. Zero in tennis is love. I finally get it.
She’s been through treatment two times, but the real problem is that she doesn’t want to get better, to be healthy, and to be – in her mind – fat.
I bit, chewed, swallowed day after day and lied, lied, lied. (Who wants to recover? It took me years to get that tiny. I wasn’t sick; I was strong.) But staying strong would keep me locked up. The only way out was to shove in food until I waddled.
Anderson is a great writer, I can imagine that some people might have problems with her prosaic writing style, but for me, and especially for this story, it really works.
Lia’s perception is almost magical, and fairy-tale like; she goes through life a bit separate from the reality around her: on one hand, she worries about blacking out and running someone over with her car (“No dead ladies in the windshield. Not today.”), but at the same time, she thinks of her once-best friend dying from bulimia as:
She offered herself to the big, bad wolf and didn’t scream when he took the first bite.
With this screwed perception on reality, Lia can justify her eating disorder, she does not see it as the deadly sickness that it is.
I had figured out that my eyes were broken long before that. But that day I started to worry that the people in charge couldn’t see, either.She is not happy with her weight, and never will, until she faces and acknowledges her sickness. Instead she resents going through treatment – the clinic which she sees as prison – where they “stuff” her full and where the staff is “whale-sized and sweaty” and the nurse is “so fat her skin was stretched tight”.
I could understand Lia, I couldn’t relate to her, but I understood her; a big part of that was the Anderson’s wonderful writing. She gives a unique perspective on the sickness, tells us how the character feels about herself, about eating, and about her view on her sickness.
With her once-inseparable best friend Cassie, both girls struggled through growing up with unrelenting body images, complicated family situations, and the increased demand of perfection at home. Cassie dies, and leaves behind Lia, who struggles with her weight, her family life, and her friend’s death.
“You’re not dead, but you’re not alive, either. You’re a wintergirl, Lia-Lia, caught in between worlds. You’re a ghost with a beating heart. Soon you’ll cross the border and be with me.”