Warning: This book is possibly triggering, so please keep this in mind if you are thinking about or currently reading it.
I had vaguely heard about this book before I read it.
A whirlwind of controversy, criticism, and above all, praise.
It deals with the ever-contentious issue of anorexia and eating disorders, along with elements of depression and other mental health issues.
I picked it up when I saw it on display in my school library. I delved into it completely unaware of the fact I was being thrown into what is probably the most affecting book I have ever opened.
The story itself begins with the narrator, 18-year-old Lia Overbrook, learning of the death of her former best friend, Cassie.
Following this, it quickly becomes clear that Lia suffers from anorexia, her mind, and consequently her narration, riddled with conflict between the need to eat and the urge to starve, between her needs and her compulsions; between reality and what lurks within her mind, pushing her further and further to become less and less.
The first thing that grabbed me about Wintergirls is the style of writing. It’s almost like new-age Virginia Woolf in the way that it meanders and diverts and settles within the narrator’s conscious so that it is no longer the author forming the words, it is the character.
It’s not just the conventional layout of words on a line on a page that Anderson uses; there are smatterings of crossings out, words dotted over the page and, in one instance, a three page spread of “Must. Not. Eat.” that really made me think I was just reading a direct transcription of Lia’s thoughts.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this – Wintergirls is bleak. There’s no tiptoeing around the nitty-gritty on Anderson’s part. She doesn’t shy away from making Lia undeniably, achingly real, no matter how hard it is.
That being said, there is one point I cannot stress enough: it would have been very, very easy for Anderson to make this book morbid and nihilistic and with no redeeming element to such a disturbing subject matter. There is hope though; a brief shimmer of optimism that alleviates some of the grief within it. Still, do not expect to finish this book without feeling changed.
I’m going to deflate the elephant in the room now and admit that I used to have an eating disorder, and I am still not entirely positive about myself.
At one point in this book, I honestly thought that it was going to end up being a trigger. And in a way, that is a compliment. Nothing else I have ever read has come close to describing how I felt when I was in the depths of my low points. Nothing has fully encapsulated the real helplessness of it all. It’s a constant onslaught of self-doubt and inward hatred and punishing yourself for being too alive.
Wintergirls is the only book gutsy enough to face up to that in a raw and painfully truthful manner; it shoves itself under the noses of those who turn away from issues such as anorexia and demands to be heard. It makes for a difficult read, but it rewards the reader a thousand times over with its unique insight.
It’s a twisted compliment, but a compliment nonetheless.
I read this book on Wednesday.
It hasn’t left my mind since.
Today is Friday.
I want to hate this book for dredging up all of the feelings I’d worked so carefully to bury. I wanted to absolutely slate it and dismiss it as another sob-story teen fic. But it isn’t. It is so so far from it.
I finally feel as if someone who has not suffered from an eating disorder really understands what it’s like to want to wake up in a different skin or not wake up at all.
If I could say one thing to Laurie Halse Anderson, it would be thank-you — for being uncompromisingly, unapologetically honest. The fact is, this book does not purport to be an anorexic bible, nor does it claim to be a manifesto for tearing down the disorder.
It is a story told in a voice that will stay with me for as long as my memory does.
It is a pure, unadulterated truth.
Nothing more, nothing less.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Sorry about that.
The last two weeks have been frantic to say the least.
My first day back at school was last Tuesday. Upper Sixth is killing me already and I haven’t even finished the second week yet. The workload is ridiculous and the pace is slaughtering my brain, one neuron at a time.
And nowadays, all anyone can talk about is UCAS and university and predicted grades and resits and modules and applications and references and personal statements and futures and jobs and preparations and the rest of our lives and life and life and life and more life rolled on top of it.
HTTP ERROR 404: THE REQUESTED PAGE ‘ZAE’S SANITY’ CANNOT BE FOUND. EVER.
On a lighter note, I had my first driving lesson! It scared the bejeezus out of me, but it was good. I managed to get up to 60mph on the drive home, which I was pretty proud about.
Aaaaaand, I’ve recently been finding a load of new music since I’ve started to use SoundCloud, so if you have any spare seconds, check out Ben Khan (listen to Youth) or Made In Heights (check out All The Places). They’re both amazing and I’ve been listening to them both on loop for days.
I will post more. No, really.
I will try to stay more positive and not have these stupid falterings in confidence that translate into shitty blog posts about how purportedly fucked up I am as a person.
I will try to make my blog posts less shitty overall, to be honest. I’m uppin ma gaaame mothafuckah.
Oh, and I’ll try to stop swearing as much. I know some people don’t like that. So I’ll try to replace said expletives with nicer words. Like… flowerpot.
I have a new post in the works, so that’ll be on its way out to y’all soon. It’s about a book I read yesterday (yes, I read it in a day) called Wintergirls, and it’s accounts the story of a girl called Lia Overbrook who suffers from anorexia nervosa. This book made me wince in all the wrong ways, and I want to hate it but I can’t. I can’t because it’s true. It’s the truest book I’ve read in a long time.
Much like to y’all
So, right now I’m sitting in a shopping area at Heathrow trying not to stare at a woman wearing the most absurd hat in existence.
Imagine a plain black snapback cap.
Now add pink fluffy trim.
Then add the words “Mummy Swag” in little jewel studs along the front.
As I said, pretty absurd.
This is why I love airports. They attract every kind of person from the farthest reaches of the world and chuck them together in a confined space.
Plus, the place has a feeling of transience about it, where a unique set of people momentarily cross paths in a situation that within itself is so wholly unlikely that it makes the entire instance seem astounding…
That sounds very pseudo-philosophical, but oh well.
Back to people-watching.
A group of Japanese tourists is walking past.
They all have matching hats on, this is glorious.
Okay, what the hell just happened?!
Here I am, minding my own business, and an elderly woman from the Japanese group turns to me and says,
“You are cute white girl! We like cute white girl!”
That said, she snaps a photo of me and scuttles away.
Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
Oh God. I’m sat on those rows of chairs arranged back-to-back with other rows, and there’s a man behind me snoring and his head looks like it is dangerously close to lolling back onto my shoulder.
DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN
NO CRUEL WORLD
oh thank god he woke up.
I’m now at outside a Yo! Sushi.
I nearly got run over by one of those buggy things on the way here.
In all fairness, the guy who was driving it looked like he was on a homicidal rampage.
And there was an old guy in the back egging him on, wielding his walking stick like he was some sort of warlord.
I’m about to get on a flight to Warsaw, and I have no idea whether I’ll have internet access in the hotel so if I go AWOL for the rest of the week, that’s why.
Also, if anyone has ever been to Warsaw and recommends anything to do in particular, please let me know!
The bestfriend, P, has obtained a boy.
I learned that they were a thing a while ago.
I know the guy.
So I talked to him at a party a few days ago about P.
I began with the intimidation card; hurt my best friend and I’ll pee on everything you love, etc.
Kind of like:
Buuuuut then a load of drunken people came running through like:
So that didn’t really have any cred from the jump.
Plus he’s like 5’10 and I’m basically a hobbit so it didn’t really have much effect.
So I tried the nonchalant, casual conversation approach to try and weedle some info from him.
My attempt at casual =
I am an idiot.
Buuuut he was being very cute about P.
I was trying not to explode with happiness.
I most probably looked like I was in excruciating pain.
Or really needed to go to the loo.
He actually asked if I was okay at one point.
But overall, I was like:
So all is good.
I told P later that I had been talking to le guy.
I gave her the lowdown on what was said.
My face the whole way through:
So the next time I saw them with each other, I literally ran around like:
I’m such a dork.
The general reaction to this was along the lines of:
And this, fair reader, is when the revelation came upon me.
I have officially lost my wingwoman.
I realised I would, from now on, be…
THE THIRD WHEEL
And seeing as I am going to a party tonight, there is only one solution.
The end of the road.
The last resort.
No other choice.
To drown my sorrows…
I have a feeling many post-worthy events will occur.
Wish me luck…
F*ck I’m bad at this.
I’m in two minds about everything right now.
It’s as if I want myself to be in these positions.
This post is going to go down like a confession.
I’m going to be utterly artless and declarative about this, because otherwise I may just start to implode.
I like a guy, codename J. I went to a party a few days ago. He had told me last week that he couldn’t go. He turned up for an hour at the start to show his face. We spoke about 4 words to each other. He left. Fine. I won’t see him for another month or so, now. Fab.
People got drunk. I was bordering on tipsy. The basic synopsis of the rest of the night is that my friend, a guy, codename W, was being close. We were hugging, arms around each other, holding hands, he was kissing my head/cheek etc.
I saw W on Friday with a girl. Looking like a couple.
My friend likes W.
And the only thing I know is that I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I may have inadvertently caused collateral.
Body image is down the pan.
Confidence, as a consequence, is eliminated.
Appetite is gone.
Optimism is absent.
I can feel it creeping up on me again, pressing out from inside my ribs. It’s that weight in the back of my mind, the heaviness in my limbs, that fucking cloud of nihilism that pulls my whole mind into a state of permanent existential crisis, a condition that any activity or superficial physical distraction can only temporarily repress.
Why am I even trying to describe this?
Sorry for this post.
I needed to let it go.
This is my shitty attempt at resolution.
Am I a bad person?
None of this is what I wanted.
Would it be stupid to ask for a sign?
Hell, I’m not feeling human at the moment.
Please believe me.