Booktalk: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

First, a quick apology: I was supposed to have a “how-to” episode up today, but I’ve been dealing with a health crisis for the last week so I’m a little behind on everything.  Anyway, the crisis is winding down now, so I’m just switching my schedule around for this week and next week.  Okay, now back to the booktalking …

Laurie Halse Anderson made an enormous splash on the YA scene with her amazing novel Speak (which, if you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely read NOW).  She’s written several other novels for teens since then, but the ones that had the most emotional impact on me were Speak and Wintergirls.

One note about this booktalk: while it was incredibly easy to write (I started writing it as I was reading the book), I’ve found it impossible to actually present it in front of classes.  As I’ve said before, I have trouble memorizing things that have too many specific details like names or numbers in them.  While there are only a few names in this booktalk, there are LOTS of numbers, and there’s no way that I could get all of these numbers in my head in the right order.  So ironically, while this is one of my favorite booktalks about one of my favorite books, I’ve never actually been able to present this one in front of a class.  Until I start using a hidden earpiece or maybe cue cards, it looks like that’s the way that things are going to stay.


Two girls.

Lia and Cassie used to be best friends.  And then they weren’t anymore, and now Lia is the only one left.

Two girls who stayed thin any way they could.  Lia and Cassie each had their own techniques.

87 calories for toast.

75 calories for an orange.

35 calories for 5 almonds.

16 calories for 10 raisins.

5 calories for one teaspoon of spicy mustard.

Lia keeps track of every calorie that enters her body.  Lia hates eating, but she needs to eat.

93 pounds.  Lia weighed just 93 pounds the first time that she was locked up for her own good.

85 pounds.  Lia weighed just 85 pounds the second time that she was locked up for her own good.

107 pounds.  That’s what the scale said this morning when Lia’s stepmother Jennifer checked her weight like she does every week.  But Jennifer doesn’t know that this number is a lie, because Lia drinks as much water as she possibly can just before her weigh-in, and Lia sewed quarters into the pockets of her yellow robe to make herself weigh more.

33 calls.  After not calling for months, Cassie called Lia 33 times the weekend that she died.  But even though Lia heard the phone ringing, she never picked up.  Cassie’s body was found in a motel room, alone.  Now Lia is left with her memories of Cassie, with the sound of Cassie’s voice in the messages she left on Lia’s phone, and with the questions that keep haunting her: Why didn’t she answer the phone?  And could she have saved Cassie’s life if she HAD answered it?

Two girls.

Lia and Cassie used to be best friends.  And then they weren’t anymore, and now Lia is the only one left.

One girl.


A Wintergirl who’s not quite dead and not quite alive.  A girl who has to make a choice: Does she want to live, or does she want to join Cassie, who is waiting for her on the other side?

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