Paperweight is a very emotional and papery creation. I often fail at emotional books because it takes a lot to get me feeling all the things. So I didn’t connect on an emotional level to Paperweight, but I still think it’s a wonderful story. The writing is fabulous and it tells a story that needs to be out there.
OH! And before we dive into this review, I read an extreme ARC. It wasn’t even bound yet (!!) so I consider myself endlessly lucky and give a gargantuan sized thanks to the Hot Keys Books publicist! But instead of trying to photograph an A4 sized book, I just plopped the cover upon my iPod. I cheat. Yes. But a photographer’s gotta do, what they’ve gotta do.
And Paperweight takes it all head on without flinching. I appreciate how it digs into the root of eating disorders — which is usually anxiety. Since it’s set in a recovery-camp, it was also interesting to see the different reasons eating orders can manifest. Like for Stevie (the narrator) her mother left and her brother died. Other girls were abused or neglected, and for others they had no reason to give. And they have the hardest time, I think, because they weren’t able to “explain it away”. It just happened to them. THAT IS SO HARD. The secondary characters were all marvellously written and developed. Refreshing? I think yes.
SO! Let’s talk about Stevie. I’m not an advocate of “all characters must be gooey sweet cupcakes in order for me to care about them”. NO WAY. (Peoples, I read hardcore fantasy where everyone is horrible and I still manage to care about them.) But Stevie was really bitter and cynical and judgmental. I found her hard to cope with at the beginning because she looked down her nose at everyone and was so deluded about herself and her circumstances. But you know what? SHE DEVELOPS. She does. She changes and matures.
The story is told in back-flashes, too, about Stevie’s decline and HOW and WHY she ends up in the eating-disorder-treatment centre. I’m not the biggest fan of backflashes, mostly because I like linear stories. I was way more interested in Stevie at-the-treatment-centre than Stevie-back-at-home-being-selfish-and-hanging-around-bad-people. BUT. I needed the backstory to understand the present.
Aaaaand, Stevie kept throwing out phrases like “I KILLED MY BROTHER”. Which had me going WHAT?! And WHY?! AND TELL ME EVERYTHING. Great page-turning incentive.
I just struggled because:
- Stevie is hard to relate to, especially since she’s super judgy on people who have the same disorder as her. She assumes she’s better then them?! And YES, she changes, but it grated on me for a lot of the book.
- Nothing about the plot (or the twists) was “new”. I feel like I’ve read this type of story #5390 times. (Maybe I read too much?! Who knows?!)
- The big reveal of What Happened That Fateful Night was sort of predictable for me. All the signs were there! It could possibly be a case of too much foreshadowing? (Or I’m uber smart…heyyyy, let’s go with that option.)
- And, totally subjectively (and my mother will be pleased with this) I had trouble with the food the girls were being gently reintroduced into eating at the treatment centre. It was hardly “healthy”. The point of eating it was so the girls wouldn’t be scared of food anymore. They’d be the ones in control, not their anxiety. I get that. BUT STILL. So much sugary things. Aren’t you pleased at the conscientious healthy monster I’ve become, Mum?
This is a good solid read! IT TRULY IS. I think the character development is the best and strongest part (the plot wasn’t exactly a raging wildfire of events) and I adored some of the poignant and relatable quotes (which I can’t say here because I read an ARC and I’m not supposed to quote that!). I also loved how it mentioned origami (!!) because I am an origami fiend. I actually sell origami. OH. And I loved that it didn’t fix the eating disorders with a bandaid. Plus, apparently the author used her own personal experiences with eating disorders to write this book! Which gives me a lot of trust in the emotions and experiences of the journey.
And did I mention how there are paper cranes in this book? THEY ROCK. I, personally, have folded over a thousand of them. It’s why I’m so fabulous and lucky.
THANK YOU TO HOT KEY BOOKS FOR THE ARC! Paperweight by Meg Haston is published July 7th, 2015.
Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.
Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.
Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn’t plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.
In this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut, Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?