is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson is an American author who writes for children and young adults.-Career:...
. It follows the story of Lia, an eighteen-year-old girl dealing anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Although commonly called "anorexia", that term on its own denotes any symptomatic loss of appetite and is not strictly accurate...
. The novel opens with the news that Lia's ex-best-friend Cassie, who was both anorexic and bulimic, has died under mysterious circumstance. The novel follows the course of Lia's grief and further struggles with anorexia, her difficult relations with her parents and step-mother, and her search to learn about Cassie's fate.
Lia had a best friend; Cassie, a girl who she met when Cassie moved in across the street in second grade. The summer between their fifth and sixth grade, Cassie began dealing with bulimia in a quest to be thinner. By eighth grade, both Cassie and Lia shared a goal of being the thinnest girls in their class. Since then, Cassie and Lia had a contest, to see who could be the thinnest. Lia was hospitalized to treat her eating disorder
Eating disorders refer to a group of conditions defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual's physical and mental health. Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are the most common specific...
during their junior year of high school. After her hospitalization, Lia became estranged from Cassie, who blamed Lia for encouraging her own eating disorder.
Nine months later (at the beginning of the novel), Cassie is found dead in a motel. The cause of death was unknown at first; an autopsy revealed that she died from Boerhaave syndrome
Esophageal rupture is rupture of the esophageal wall due to vomiting. 56% of esophageal perforations are iatrogenic, usually due to medical instrumentation such as an endoscopy or paraesophageal surgery...
, a rupture of the esophagus
The esophagus is an organ in vertebrates which consists of a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach. During swallowing, food passes from the mouth through the pharynx into the esophagus and travels via peristalsis to the stomach...
caused by repeated vomiting. Lia learns the cause of death later in a book from her mother. Lia, getting a message from a motel employee named Elijah, who told her to come to the motel to meet him, went to the scene of where her ex-best friend died. When she met and saw Elijah, he didn't know who she was, so she told him she was her step-sister Emma. At Cassie's wake, they meet again and finally, at Cassie's funeral, he learns the truth of her name after Lia's mom finds her. During this time, Lia's weight drops from 101 pounds to 93 pounds, though she has rigged her family's bathroom scale so that her parents believe she weighs more. After her father gets back from his trip, and tells Lia she is moving in with her mom, since she isn't working with them, she goes into the bathroom and cuts deep into her skin, from her hand all the way to her brain. Her step-mother Jennifer and step-sister Emma find her and take her to the hospital, after that, she is supposed to live with her mother, Dr. Chloe Marrigan. Dr. Marrigan feeds her and doesn't leave her side without having someone else watch her.
Lia, who has been haunted by Cassie's ghost throughout the book, has a confrontation with the ghost in her therapist's waiting room. She explains this to her therapist, Dr. Parker, who recommends that she be committed to a psychiatric institution. Lia runs away to see Elijah and asks him to take her with him when he leaves for Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...
, which he is planning to do the next day. Elijah agrees on the condition that Lia call her family first; Lia refuses, and Elijah tries to convince Lia that her family is trying to help her and that she should let them do so. They go to sleep, and in the morning Lia finds that he has left without her. Lia is near death and has one more conversation with Cassie's ghost, in which they talk about the good parts of being alive. Lia escapes death and goes to calls her mother. The novel ends with Lia in the hospital, working toward recovery.
- Lia Overbrook - the main character and narrator of Wintergirls. She is eighteen-years old and a senior in high school.
- Cassandra (Cassie) Parrish - She has been found dead just before the opening of the novel, and has been estranged from Lia for many months prior to that. She appears in the novel both as a ghost
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...
and in Lia's memories. Lia's best friend for the last ten years.
- Elijah - The hotel maintenance worker who found Cassie after her death. Elijah and Lia become friends.
- Prof. David Overbrook - Lia's father, a famous history professor and the author of several books about the American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...
- Jennifer - Lia's step-mother, who married Prof. Overbrook shortly after his separation from his first wife, Chloe Marrigan.
- Emma - Lia's step-sister, Jennifer's daughter. Emma is in third grade and has a close relationship with Lia.
- Dr. Chloe Marrigan - Lia's mother, a cardiologist.
- Dr. Nancy Parker - Lia's therapist