Published by Hot Key Books on July 2, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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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?
Deep, heavy and depressing, Paperweight certainly packed a punch when it came to the feels. I picked this up, knowing it was about a girl suffering from an eating disorder, but little did I know, the multiple triggers the book would cover. Grief, physical and emotional abuse, suicide, depression, toxic friendships, negative body image, drinking and family neglect, it’s all here.
Paperweight would be incredibly difficult for anyone who’s ever experienced any of the above. This book holds no bounds and does not gloss over anything. Every sentence is heavy and difficult to read, a harsh look at the deeper recesses of mental illness and it’s triggers.
“Every person should be able to choose her own particular brand of suffering. It’s a fundamental human right. Death. Liberty. The pursuit of unhappiness.”
Being forced into rehab to cope with her eating disorder, Stevie is hard, angry and unreceptive to her treatment. This girl is mentally ill, and it really shows from her innermost thoughts and feelings. She hates the world, hates other girls, hates her situation and herself. Not having dealt with an eating disorder myself, the way Stevie begrudged every ounce of fat and avoided every calorie was rather confronting. She envies the gaunt look of other girls, with their jutting out hips and collar bones! It was disturbing, but it was also incredibly realistic.
Because Stevie is so angry and hateful, she’s incredibly judgmental towards the other girls in therapy. As time goes on, her thoughts around the only girls do slowly start to change, only serving to reflect that people who view others in a bad light are most likely unhappy with themselves. There’s a reason for Stevie’s distrust of other women however, due to being played with by a selfish friend in the past.
“For each of you, letting go of your eating disorder would mean letting go of many things. Who you thought you could be with it, what you thought you could change, or fix.” – Shrink
The catalyst for Stevie’s healing was her therapist (also known as Shrink), who played a major part of the story. Shrink is incredibly patient of Stevie, gently asking questions and allowing her to come to terms with things herself. But she was also someone who really cared about Stevie and showed that not everyone was out to get her. I was really surprised with her techniques though, forcing the girls and Stevie out of their comfort zones to face their fears. This seemed to be quite torturous for Stevie in particular, even though it turned out to be effective.
Paperweight offers slow character development for Stevie as she approaches the anniversary for her brother’s death in therapy. Through therapy, she slowly recalls what lead to her eating disorder and depression. We hear about her self blame, grief, and how lonely she feels. But we also slowly start to see her come to terms with everything. I only wish the book would have given us more happiness at the end to lighten the load of the book.
“Here in this artificial world, it is the same. Self-worth, relationships, abuse, parents, families, expectations, dead siblings: they’re the dark, low clouds that loom so close not even we know how big they really are. We can’t step back to see them in their entirety. And so we focus on the little things.”
Perhaps I’m too used to the happily ever after in fiction, but Paperweight is more about realism than anything else. This book definitely isn’t going to be for everyone, but I can see it’s importance. As a therapist herself, the author could probably help those out there experiencing a similar problem to Meg. It’s an incredibly heavy and depressing read, and you definitely need to be in the right frame of mind to read it.
Rating: 3 out of 5
I love the Aussie cover for this book (right), I feel like it represents the heavy impact of the story more than the US counterpart (left):
Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a review copy of this book.
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Yes, this was definitely a very tough read, Jeann, and you're right, it covered a lot of things that needed trigger warnings.
I really enjoyed how realistic it was, though (one of my step-sisters suffered from an eating disorder, and she has written a book about it…) the was it starts as a way to control everything by not eating.
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I actually have a copy of this one, so I should be reading it sometime soon. I don't think I knew it would be such an emotional punch. I knew it would be pulling at a lot of heartstrings though, so I know I am going to have to be prepared before I read this one. Sometimes you can really appreciate when a book doesn't sugar coat from the reality of things.
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I don't know how I would feel about this book. I have heard nothing but good things about this, but as I suffer from anxiety and depression myself, it might be unnerving for me to read. Or it might just be really good. I definitely do want to give it a try, though! Stevie sounds like an interesting character, as messed up as she is, and I would love to see how the book handles all those difficult topics.
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Oh man, it would definitely be a hard one for you to sit through Inge. Glad you're keen on picking it up!
Totally agree with you on so many levels about this one! First, the Aussie cover is absolutely superior in this case. And the book WAS a sad/depressing one. I liked Shrink, and the therapy stuff, but I was legitimately wondering if some of the stuff in the groups was an actual technique for people with eating disorders? I mean, some of it was harsh- and kind of not necessary? Like drinking soda- no one actually NEEDS to drink soda- but they do need to eat healthy, nutritious food. I agree also that a few lighter moments could have helped, even if the ending still had that heavy feel- had there been a few more light moments throughout, it would have been more balanced. Fabulous review 🙂
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I know, I really loved the cover and it seems like a few people are in agreement! It was just SO sad, I mean it was really crazy. Oh man, what were some of those therapy sessions? Like shoving food down, isn't that just emotionally traumatising them? It was crazy. Thanks Shannon!
My heart is too fragile for books like these but I'm very intrigued by this. I actually just got this on my Kindle, so all I need is a little push to read it, lol. Wonderful review! 😀
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Yep, it's definitely a really tough read.
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This sounds like a fantastic book but that would too hard to read! I dealt with eating disorder as a teen, and although it was a mild case and didn't require therapy (a death in the family was quite enough to shake me into a different path) I still worry that I'll end up on the same route at some point when confronted with things out of my control…
Great review Jeann!
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It really was fantastic, wow Pili, I am so glad you got on the path of recovery.
I did enjoy this book, but it was definitely full of triggers! I'm glad it didn't get any of mine, but I can see it being a problem for some people. And while I liked the ending, I wanted like one more chapter so I could see what happens in the future!
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I know, man it was such a difficult one for me to read Kayla. I know what you mean, that ending was so open ended!
I actually like the idea of the ending not being a "happily ever after." I mean, in the real world with mental illness, not everything ends with butterflies, rainbows and unicorns; and I feel like the fact that Meg Haston chose to show that is wonderful. However, I can definitely see why you felt it was too dark Jeann.
Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3 Definitely going to have to get a copy of this and mentally prepare myself for such an emotional story.
That's totally true Zoe! It was so heavy and dark, I just felt so depressed lol. Great idea, I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of it.
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I knew it was about a girl with an eating disorder but I hadn't realized how many other topics it touched on. Definitely seem slike a heavy read. So interesting about the two covers since they are so close but the difference seems to really convey a big difference- Great review!
Absolutely, I was really fascinated with the impact of both covers too!
Wow, I didn't even know it was that depressing. I might probably read it someday, but you're right that you really need to be in the right frame of mind to read it.
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Yup, I'm glad I was forewarned Precious!
This is one of those books that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Sounds like I may have to wait until I am in the right head space to deal with all the feels.
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You totally need to be Cynthia, it's a heavy read!
Although I really like the US cover, I have to admit the Aussie one is GORGEOUS and yes, fits the story really well. This one really is a tough read but I appreciated that the author didn't hold anything back. Definitely not a book for when you are feeling a little down yourself, though. Nice review!
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I know, it's definitely more representative of the story I think. Definitely a really tough one!
I found this one really confronting too Jeann, even not having dealt with an eating disorder as such. I think the most striking aspect was that Stevie was solely in control of her own recovery, and the 'shrink' aided her, but it wasn't due to a love interest like so many YA storylines rely on. Her character development was slow, but I think that added to the overall realism too. I really enjoyed it, but there was something missing for me with the emotional connection that I just couldn't put my finger on. So glad you were able to enjoy it for the most part Jeann, heavy stuff <3
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It was way too intense for me Kelly lol. I'm really glad it wasn't due to a love interest too – I mean that's so much more realistic! I love how you brought up that point.
I'm not a thing for sad books – though I've yet to cry over a book – but this sounds like an emotionally powerful read!
I actually like the Australian cover better. From your review, I feel like the US version seems a little… FLAT.
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You are amazing Sophia, there's been a few books that have made me cry lol. I know, the US version is beautiful but not really that representative.
I like the cover. I don't handle these realistic fictions about death, illness etc…I need some happy. Lovely review.
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Oh man, I totally can get what you mean. It's so hard to deal with!
Thanks for the warning. I'm very much interested by this book, but I'll read it later. Great review, Jeann 🙂
No problems Red, thanks for reading.
Wait. So there's no happily ever afters? I can't take a book like this. I don't care for depressing reads. I WANTS AND NEEDS TO BE HAPPY. It's a requirement. Although you're right, since the author is a therapist already, it could be a way to connect with readers affected with this but still gosh. I can't imagine such a sad read. Good job for getting through it. 😉
I know what you mean Keionda and I can totally see why! Gosh these depressing reads are totally bringing me down.
I've been curious about this book for a long time now. My coblogger loved it, but many other people have hated it. I guess I have to find out for myself. Great review, Jeann.
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Fair enough, I can see why it would bring some polarising thoughts – it\’s not for everyone.
So am I the only one that finds it weird that the covers are incredibly similar yet different?
And I have to agree, this book was pretty sad, especially considering what Stevie's been through. Luckily I was kind of able to follow along with her reasoning, and her development throughout the story. I was afraid that that wouldn't happen. I ALSO was afraid that the therapist wouldn't be as amazing, but she was 🙂
Awesome review Jeann!
I think it\’s really interesting actually, because just changing a few things can completely change the tone of the cover! I can see why, it was easy to get inside her head, which wasn\’t a happy place. Thanks Val <3
Wow. That blurb really sets you up for something intense. I'm actually glad the story delivered, even though it was heavy in a lot of topics. I like emotional reads like this one and after your review I'm really curious. But yeah, I can see how it would be nicer to have more of a happy ending after being so heavy throughout. Great review.
I know right? It was SO intense and heavy. Thanks Shane!
Gosh! This sounds like such a tough read, Jeann. I think I would be frustrated with Stevie and her negative attitude towards the other girl in therapy. I'm glad to hear that she slowly develops over the course of the book, however. I'll have to think about if this is going to be the book for me.
Wonderful review, Jeann!
I agree about the Aussie cover being more powerful!
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It really was Nick, Stevie was negative towards everyone, not just one girl. It was frustrating, but I\’m glad her mindset slowly got there.
Takes certain kind of readers to appreciate this book. I don't know if it will be for me at the moment, but I'll be sure to keep it in mind.
I totally agree Joy, it was such a hard read.
Well. This DOES sounds terribly depressing. At first glance: this isn't the book for me. Though I realize it's an important issue that needs to be addressed, and it really sounds like the author does it justice. I think that I'll pick this one up eventually–but you're right. I think I just need to be in the right frame of mind.
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It was so depressing, man. I wouldn't recommend reading it if you're already feeling down or depressed lol
I'm usually so drawn to sad sad books but.. I'm not drawn in. Sure, it sound so good and like it's a right fantastic story, I just can't see if be a book I'll ever be in the mood for. I've gone off sad and depressing reads because they just get me down and take a lot to pick me back up, you know? Still, this is a great review Jeann, and I'm glad you went out of YOUR comfort zone and read something a little different than usual! 🙂
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Oh man, I totally know what you mean! I needed all the fluffy, happy things after this book.
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Omg, I didn't even REALISE there were two differnet covers. It really boggles me when they change covers ever so slightly. I mean, that's not that much of a difference, right?! whyyy do countries do this?
AnYWAY! Rating twins! *hi fives* I liked it a lot but it was seriously depressing and just left me kind of flopped in a pile of sadness afterwards.
I know, I only realised it later on when I compared the two. I do think it makes a lot of difference with just a few tweaks. Yay for rating twins! I totally agree!
I must be a sadist because I'm drawn to depressing books haha. Maybe it's the cathartic effect 😛 But I really just like contemporary in general. AND I LOVED THIS BOOK. Really hard-hitting, like you said 🙂
And I like both covers but yep, Aussie one portrays it better, I think 🙂
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OH man, I can't deal with too many sad books lol. So glad to hear you loved it! It was too much for me.
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