on young adult literature, literacy, and teaching

Book Preview: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Hardcover, 278 pages

Wintergirls (2009) is in the same vein as Speak (1999) and Catalyst (2002), though I don’t think it occurs at the same school as these two novels (Melinda, from Speak is mentioned on page 150-somethingof Catalyst). In this novel, the title character, Lia, is struggling with anorexia and with the death of her bulimic friend, Cassie. Anderson, in an interview on the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)/readwritethink.org podcast Text Messages talks about the novel and about how she tried to discuss the topic in such a way that the novel didn’t become a guide to those teens with eating disorders.

I did want to mention that Anderson made an interesting stylistic choice, in using strikethrough text, in this first person narrated story. I read some criticism of using this technique to get into Lia’s head by another blogger a few days ago (and it’s my luck I can’t find that blog again). The gist of what the blogger said was that it takes away from the story. I must disagree. If Lia’s emptiness, which she uses as a synonym for strength, comes from her self-denial, then the reader must be allowed to see that inner struggle. Without the strikethrough text, readers don’t see Lia’s fight with herself, between what she really wants, and what she wants. It a way, it reminds me of William Faulkner’s Light in August where characters are thinking “one thing” and … thinking something else in their subconscious altogether

For more information about Laurie Halse Anderson, click here for her website, or here for her LiveJournal.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIjyJ_tqedc&w=420&h=315]

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