Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson is a work of fiction, but it seemed so hauntingly real that it took my breath away.
Meet Lia, an 18-year-old high school senior, whose "former best friend" Cassie has just died from complications from bulimia. Lia, who herself suffers from anorexia, tells the world that she is fine with Cassie's death as they had parted ways long ago. She thinks she has everyone fooled when she attends Cassie's funeral. But she isn't fine. In fact Lia's guarding many secrets: she knows something about Cassie's last day of life; she's starving herself slowly and methodically while padding the household scale; and she cuts herself while hiding the truth beneath layers and layers of clothing. Her family truly hopes that she's turned a corner to wellness. They really want to believe her when she says she's okay. Instead she sees Cassie everywhere and can smell her burnt sugar cookie smell. Is it real? Is she actually being haunted? It's a life-or-death situation that keeps you guessing up until the end. Alternating between narration, dialogue, and Lia's actual thoughts, this is a truly compelling story that gives the reader insight into a devastating illness.
Recommended by Cheryl Finnan