Warning: This Book May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Laurie Halse Anderson’s latest YA book, Wintergirls, has been generating a lot of buzz lately. It’s been receiving rave reviews in the media and all over the blogosphere, and it appears on ALA’s list of Best Books for Young Adults. But, it’s also stirred up quite a bit of controversy due to its treatment of the subject of anorexia. Some critics of the book say it serves as a how-t0 manual to the disorder.
Today, Calgary Public Library’s teen zone blog features Wintergirls and the controversy around it. The blog links to some interesting pro and con arguments and news pieces, including an article from the New York Times on “the troubling allure of eating disorder books.”
I haven’t read Wintergirls (I’m number 15 in the hold queue for it at CPL), so I’m unable to make an informed opinion just yet. Nevertheless, I believe the argument that reading about something leads the reader to do or become those things is flawed. First of all, it assumes that young adults are unable to read and think critically. Also, it fails to acknowledge the role that books can play in opening lines of communication around difficult subjects that often affect teen’s lives, such as eating disorders.