Recent reads: Wintergirls, The Paying Guests

I’ve been wanting to read something by Laurie Halse Anderson for a while now. Not sure why I haven’t! I know that Speak is probably the one everyone reads but it wasn’t available as a library e-book at the time, which is how I usually get my reads these days. Wintergirls, published in 2009, was though. And it was, well, depressing. It is a story about an anorexic girl dealing with the death of her best friend, who also had an eating disorder of her own, they even had a competition of sorts, to see who could be skinnier.

Wintergirls hit me so hard. It was hard to read with some of its crossed out words. The chapter titles had me confused at first. And it was so ugly and disturbing and yet there was something about it that both pushed and pulled me. Perhaps it was the way Anderson got into her character’s head, bringing out this illness, the angst of teenaged life, such sadness. It was just a really painful read, both in the emotional and physical sense. And it’s so difficult to read this, knowing that this is happening out there. I knew someone who was hurting herself like this in university, but I never said anything, never did anything. I use the excuse that she wasn’t a close friend, but she was in my classes, around in the building, and it was such a small school, so I will always wonder if there was something I, or anyone, could have done? She died this year. We hadn’t been in contact since we graduated, so it was a shock to hear her name, and to hear of her death.



Young adult novels
Speak (1999)
Catalyst (2002)
Prom (2005)
Twisted (2007)
Wintergirls (2009)
The Impossible Knife of Memory (2014)

Historical novels
Fever, 1793 (2000)
Seeds of America series, also referred to as “Chains: Seeds of America” series or simply “Chains” series.
Chains (2008)
Forge (2010)
Ashes (Expected Publication: January 6, 2015)

Children’s books
Ndito Runs (1996)
Turkey Pox (1996)
No Time for Mother’s Day (2001)
The Big Cheese of Third Street (2002)
Thank You, Sarah! The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving (2002)
Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution (2008)
The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School (2009)
Vet Volunteers series (Previously published by Pleasant Company under the title Wild at Heart)


The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
I was very taken with the book from the beginning. The down on its luck family having to take in lodgers. Frances cooking, cleaning, mending, doing all the things a woman of her stature is not used to. The more modern, almost hip couple, especially when compared to her stodgy life. A breath of fresh air. A change. A refreshing change. I could feel the house, the 1920s London exuding throughout the pages. All the little things that happen in their daily lives – raking the ashes of the stove, visits from the baker’s man and the butcher’s boy, the dusting, rug- beating. Somehow all these mundane activities drew my attention. Mr Barber, being quite creepy, got on my nerves. Mrs Barber, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of, until Frances gets in on the act.

But the story wore on and I kept waiting for something to happen. And it does and, well, I don’t want to give away the plot, but it does becomes a mystery/suspenseful type of read.

I enjoyed the first third of the book the most. The middle dragged a bit and could probably have been shortened a bit as parts seemed a bit repetitive. Still it was great to read Sarah Waters again. She has a wonderful way with atmosphere and characters.


Tipping the Velvet, 1998
Affinity, 1999
Fingersmith, 2002
The Night Watch, 2006
The Little Stranger, 2009
The Paying Guests, 2014


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