Ever since Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson has garnered a well-deserved reputation for tackling traumatic emotional topics. Wintergirls follows in that vein of her writing (as opposed to her historical fiction). It starts as Lia learns that her former-best-friend of over nine years has died, alone, in a motel room. It's unclear exactly what has happened, and since Cassie dumped Lia nine months before, Lia is at first unsure what she wants to know. Lia has problems of her own, as an anorexic who is embattled with her own body, and it slowly becomes clear that part of what drew the girls together were their eating disorders. Cassie died of her bullemia, and Lia seems to be dying of her anorexia and the hallucinations that are either part of another mental illness or a result of her loss of brain tissue. When Lia realizes that Cassie called her 33 times the night that she died, the hauntings become much worse.
Uplifting stuff! Okay, not. The ending is hopeful, in that Lia begins to move beyond the hallucinations and her own family issues to begin to take a grip and flourish in her life. Anderson is a fabulous writer, which is how the ending keeps from seeming pat. Overall, I'd recommend it, but with a notation for the sensitive that it gets pretty dark and self-loathing in Lia's mind. I'd read it on a sunny day.