Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wintergirls & Happy Easter

Today is the day Christians all over the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. May this day bring you renewed hope and joy.

This is the last day before I return to the classroom. This year has gone by so quickly. I sat down today and read Laurie Halse Anderson's book Wintergirls. I had a deep connection to this book. My daughter was anorexic and we fought it for years. Even today as a married woman I see her struggle to eat when she gets stressed. The day before my father went in for open heart surgery he sat her down and made her promise him that when she would get real stressed that she would think about him and not stop eating. She promised him. My father stroked out during surgery and lived for three weeks before passing away. To this day when she is extremely stressed I here her say under her breath, "I'm eating grandpa." She was a dancer and in school, a school for the visual and performing arts, she informed her dance teachers of her problems with eating and also let them know of several of her friends that she was concerned about. This teacher and accomplished dancer and actress would have these girls eat lunch with her in the studio three times a week to discuss any issues they might have. She never once pushed them to eat so they responded well to her.

Anorexia is something that affects all ages. My daughter was in kindergarten when her eating problems started. It was partly a result of her father pushing her away after our divorce and as I found out later some abuse going on a a relative of her father's. She encourages and speaks to teens all of the time. Anorexia is not just a problem for girls. One of her best friends in school was a young male dancer who suffered an eating disorder.

The other issue addressed in this book is that of cutting. Laurie did not go into great detail but did let the reader know the hows and whys the main character cut herself. I suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a relative when I was in middle school and I would take pins and scratch writing into my arms until I bled or just poke holes and watch the blood bubble to the surface picturing it bubbling out all of the bad inside of me.

I deal with students every day with these problems. I look for the signs but they are not always easy to see. I would recommend this book to everyone, parents, teachers and teens. It is strong in message and plot. It is not for the faint of heart. Laurie Halse Anderson once again took the road less traveled and wrote about a topic that seems to be taboo in books but needs to be addressed. I applaud her and will place many copies of this book on my shelf.

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