Message From The Author

Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult, Young Adult

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Author's Message

A Hungry Hope

It's a problem many teen girls face, and one Laurie Halse Anderson really didn't want to write about.
"I have my own body issues, like a lot of women in America," says the award-winning and bestselling author. "It was not a topic I wanted to explore."

But it was the coaxing of a
good friend who's a pediatrician and a lot of letters from readers
that helped convince Anderson to write Wintergirls, the story of one girl's terrible eating disorder. It's
out this month from Viking.

"I guess the happy teenagers of America don't write to me," she says.

To tackle the topic, the author looked inward. "For myself, I really wanted to look at those ugly voices that just seem to whisper in our darkest moments that we're ugly and horrible," says Anderson, who calls Wintergirls "the darkest book I've ever written."

The pressure placed on teens to be thin angers Anderson. "The thing that's really frustrating is I think it really overemphasizes their value as measured by their appearance, versus what gifts or talents they bring to the world," she says. "It's about women being competitive with women. Who do we have to blame? What kind of messages are we sending our children?"

Anderson sees the problem as countrywide. "We're so confused in America because we have this obesity problem and we quite literally have children who are starving themselves to death. I wish there was a way to get them all to stop and say let's all just eat a couple of healthy meals a day and go for a walk," she says.

Despite the serious subject matter, Anderson always makes sure to end her books on a hopeful note. "I think it would be amoral to do otherwise when writing for teenagers," she says.

And Anderson's books reach lots of teens; her breakout novel, Speak, is read in schools throughout the country.

"The best thing is when a kid comes up to me and says, 'You know, I really hate reading, but your book didn't totally suck' " she laughs, delighted at the prospect of reaching reluctant readers -- and offering a little bit of hope.

-- Elissa Petruzzi

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