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?
Despite the name of this novel, Paperweight is not a light-hearted read. This book deals with a multitude of heavy subjects, including eating disorders, anxiety and death. It was quite difficult to read at times, but I’m glad I pushed through.
Death is not an exact science, which is irritating for those of us who appreciate precision.
I’ll admit throughout the first half of the novel that Stevie is hard to love. She is cold and mean. But as most situations, bitterness typically stems from a source of guilt. Being that Stevie wanted to take her own life, I knew there was more behind her story and why she was behaving in such a way.
As always, I was right, because when am I wrong? (JK. I am almost always wrong.)
Stevie, among the other side characters, were very rich and layered. They each had their own pasts and their pain. Their own personalities that reflected their weaknesses and issues. Again, it was challenging at times to be reading about these characters living through such a difficult time. I did begin to feel the pain and anxiousness as if it was my own.
Promise was like a precious stone, she told me: hypnotizing, but after a while the weight of it could sink you.
I don’t suffer from any eating disorders, but as far as my knowledge goes, I think Haston approached the subject beautifully and accurately. (And I’m now realizing in the acknowledgments that Haston actually suffered from an eating disorder herself and says she’s tried her best to represent it). This, of course, is always very refreshing to have a disorder or mental illness represented fairly, because for those who suffer, they will realize they aren’t alone in their struggles. And that is SO important.
We’re meant to be part of a we. Something bigger, something outside of ourselves.
Paperweight is certainly not the easiest read. It is heavy and painful, but I think it’s so incredibly important to read and learn about. By familiarizing ourselves with topics we do not know of, we understand others in ways we would not have been able to before. And in a society where we are able to understand one another, we find peace.
(Did I just make this review political? Maybe. Because I just McCain’t help it.)
Have anyone here read Paperweight? If so, what are your thoughts? What books have you read that discuss mental illnesses? Any recommendations? As always, leave your recs, thoughts, comments or questions down below!