By: Meg Haston
Expected Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Stevie’s life is upside down. Her mother is gone, she drinks too much, she starves herself, and she killed her brother. She now finds herself in an eating disorder rehab facility where she must deal with her mother’s abandonment, her eating disorder, and her brother’s death.
Disclaimer: I don’t read a lot of contemporary and this is the first eating disorder book I’ve read so my eating disorder fiction repertoire is quite limited.
- Haston did a great job of describing Stevie’s struggle with her eating disorder or ED as the girls call it. For readers who “don’t understand” why they don’t see how skinny and “unattractive” they are or why they just don’t eat something, Haston’s writing allows the reader to get into the mind of Stevie and her rationales. Reader’s leave with a better understanding of EDs.
- Paperweight never comes across as preachy. There are no long diatribes by Stevie’s family about why she needs to get healthy. This book begins at the rehab facility and its focus is therapy and healthy relationships.
- Stevie has a very unhealthy relationship with a friend and it’s the type of relationship where the friend is an enabler and exhibits destructive behavior. Many of us have either had a friend like this or knows someone who has and it can be difficult for the “victim” to realize that this person is a cancer. Stevie knows her friend is bad yet she continues to associate with her. She is finally able to verbalize why she had this person in her life for so long and is able to let her go. I think this part of the story is a GREAT lesson for teens as far as what constitutes a good friend versus a bad “friend.”
- Paperweight deals with a lot of issues teens are faced with such as suicide, sexual identity, friendship, parents, body image, and coping. Haston handles all these tough issues without the book feeling heavy or dark or depressing.
- Just like life, there was no happily ever after ending. By the end of the novel, Stevie has made some resolutions but she still struggles with her ED.
- The only issue I had was that I’ve seen this style of storytelling several times. By this I mean the style where the protag claims they have killed someone and it’s slowly revealed throughout the novel.
I’m a teen librarian and teens tell me about their friends who talk about suicide. I have a teen patron who was suicidal. I see teens who won’t eat. I know teens who were respectful and nice and have done a total 180 because of their new friends. Teens have come out to us. Teens walk into the teen room with black eyes. Teens who are abusing drugs. Teens with alcoholic parents. We just had a party where a boy got a little too handsy with a girl and we had pull her aside and ask if we needed to intervene. We are not social workers or teachers so we aren’t mandated reporters. We help teens by listening and by handing them a book to help them deal. I appreciate good books like Paperweight that address these issues honestly and I will DEFINITELY recommend this book to my teen patrons. I already have a couple in mind.