Review: Paperweight – Meg Haston

Posted 16 June, 2015 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 19 Comments

*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 *

Review: Paperweight – Meg HastonPaperweight by Meg Haston
Published by Harper Teen on 7 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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4 Stars

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:

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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19 responses to “Review: Paperweight – Meg Haston

  1. Wow! This story sounds very emotional and heartbreaking. The fact that this poor girl has been through so much by losing her brother, and her mother abandoning her as well is devastating. Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent in our culture, especially among teenagers, so I think this story is very relevant! Excellent Review Lexx 🙂

  2. Amy

    It sounds like a really tough read in terms of content. A really eye-opening story. I’m glad you enjoyed it, I’m not sure if it’s something I’d read as I prefer more light hearted books. This one would have me down and thinking about it for days I think.
    Have a great day,
    Amy x

    • Yeah, it did. I understand what you mean about intense books, but the subject has to work as well.

      I have no idea who Robert Eggletone is, Braine… I have never heard of him – so it’s strange that you think I’ve recommended Talk Supe to him.

  3. Wow. It seems like the author did a wonderful job of taking you ‘inside the disease’, Lexxie. I think I will pick up this one. We’ve had some experience with anorexia – friends of the girls – and I think this would shed some light and help them to understand a bit more clearly even if it does rather scare me for them to read it. Lovely review, my dear.

    **BIG HUGS**

    • Yep, she definitely did a great job, Brandee! My step-sister has had a lot of trouble with anorexia, and even now, after she’s gotten a lot better, I think it’s really hard for her.
      I think that for girls who don’t have any eating trouble, it is a great book to read, because it helps understand that anorexia isn’t really about being on a diet, rather it is an illness that has a lot to do with low self-worth and control.
      *BIG HUGS*

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