*I received a free copy of Paperweight from Harper Teen via Edelweiss. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Paperweight by Meg Haston
Published by Harper Teen on 7 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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?
Paperweight is a heart-breaking realistic fiction story about a girl who decides the best way to control her unravelling life is by either not eating at all, or eating a whole lot before ‘purging’ it all.
My Paperweight review:
Stevie isn’t only trapped in her own body, she is completely lost in there, and nothing at all makes sense to her anymore, ever since that fateful evening when she was eating fried chicken on the porch while her dad explained that her mom had left them all behind. Paperweight is a harsh story, about how, when Stevie has no control over her life anymore, the only thing she can control is what she ingests. Not eating makes her feel like she has power once more, and if she slips up and eats loads of food, it’s very easy to get rid of it all again.
Paperweight is not a story for the faint at heart, and I don’t think it’s a book for anyone who is or has been suffering from an eating disorder. Stevie is so far gone she faints, and all she thinks about is starving herself to death so she can die and make herself the ultimate sacrifice on the one-year-anniversary of her brother’s accidental death.
The family dynamics are really well done, and my heart was aching so much for Stevie and her feelings of never being good enough for anyone – especially not her mom who left without saying goodbye, and without any contact after she disappeared from her husband’s and children’s lives. Paperweight also show very clearly that eating disorders don’t necessarily have to do with wanting to go on a diet, or be thinner. At least not at the beginning. It really is a play on control, and Stevie was able to share how much she loathed herself, and the fact that ‘she took up too much space’ and thus made her mom leave her and her brother behind.
Most of the story in Paperweight unfolds at the clinic Stevie’s dad sends her to to try to help her heal. At first, Stevie doesn’t want anything to do with her fellow patients, nor with the staff, and the way she rationalizes her fears and her want to sacrifice herself so that she can honor her brother is really poignant and strong. I think this story can really help someone who has not dealt with an eating disorder to understand what motivates someone who suffers from anorexia or bulimia. Especially because in some ways, it made me think of the autobiographical Hvis Jeg Forsvinner, Ser Du Meg Da? Stevie’s struggles, her budding friendships, and especially Shrink and her understanding ways made Paperweight an excellent but hard story to read.
Some of my favorite Paperweight Quotes:
In old movies, men in white coats cart the crazies away. I get a woman in a white minivan.
One of the girls is a wispy,haired brunette who eats too quickly and who has too much flesh to e an anorectic. The other is more of a threat: a hunched blonde with a clear feeding tube that snakes from her right nostril and hooks over her ear. Her shoulder blades jut out; her bones are sharp like exquisite carved marble.
Suddenly, I want to shove my chair back, away from the circle. We are too close, these strangers and me, and I am taking up too much space.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: