This was my first read for the 2011-2012 Gateway Award Possible Nominees. The title didn't give me any idea what it was going to be about. However, I should have known from reading Speak by this same author that this would be a very deep story. This was a VERY hard book to read. Yes, when I was a teen I read books like Go Ask Alice about drug use, and I read a biography of Karen Carpenter and her eating disorder. However, as with Speak, I felt a very personal connection to this one, and I'm sure that's what made it so hard. In Speak, I also had an experience like the main character. In Wintergirls, many of our main character Lia's thoughts are ones I've had myself. Now, Lia has an eating disorder, she's anorexic, and she cuts. Neither of which are things I do. However, the body image, the hateful things she says about herself in her mind, those are things I do to myself. At one point, she says she wishes she could throw up. I admit, I've wished I could be bulimic, because they can eat whatever they want, but then get rid of it. Yeah, yeah, I know it's bad, and that's why I'd never do it, but the fact is that it has crossed my mind.
Lia's best friend growing up, Cassie, has just been found dead in a motel room by herself. Cassie and Lia had grown apart over the past few years. Cassie's parents felt that Lia wasn't a good role model after she'd been put into a clinic to help get over her past anorexic episodes. One of them was a car accident where Lia passed out from low blood sugar, and Cassie was in the car. We do learn that Cassie was bulimic, and into alcohol and drugs. So not quite the angel her parents believed.
We hear all of Lia's thoughts, we hear the ways she figures out to try to keep at the weight she wants instead of where her doctor wants her to be. Very hard read, but a good one.