Wednesday, August 26

Meg Haston - Paperweight

"We are not meant to walk alone in this life. We're meant to be part of a we. Something bigger, something outside of ourselves."

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?

“I will not take a single breath on the one-year-anniversary of the night I killed my brother.”

Paperweight was one book that had me hooked from the first page itself. Stevie is a seventeen-year-old planning to kill herself on the anniversary of her brother's death. It's twenty seven days away and Stevie is stuck in an eating disorder treatment center, biding her time around therapists who try their best to save her Stevie's grim determination to die is what drives her, and she fights for control of her life, with which the rehab is doing nothing to help.  Will she succeed in her plans of self-destruction? Will she reach her target weight even under the watchful eye of those around her? Will she be reunited with her brother- her dead brother- at long last?

“Pasta? Salad, with dressing of course, slick, greasy calories that ruin the vegetables. Brownies? I look around to see if anybody else gets the joke. No one’s laughing.” 

The story is told from Stevie's point of view and alternates between her days prior to being rehabbed and her days at the treatment facility.  We get to see exactly what goes on through her mind and the author should be lauded for the painful description of what Stevie is feeling. Riddled with guilt, pain and anger, Stevie has really toxic thoughts about herself and life in general. We get to feel Stevie's pain, confusion and the trauma that's haunting her. The writing style is really good and somehow instigates negative thoughts in the reader's mind- and because of that, I must warn you, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER OR YOU'VE JUST RECOVERED FROM ONE. Steer clear away from this. It was very easy to connect with Stevie and the pain she goes through that at one point even I felt bleak about the whole situation so much so that I quite thought she had no choice but to go ahead with her plans. Yeah, that was crazy.

"I allow myself a small smile. Death won’t desert me. It’s waiting for me, beckoning. And I’m ready, taking sure steps towards my final act. An intricately choreographed scene that will amaze. I will face the audience: my mother, Eden. My father, Shrink. And with a glittering cloud of smoke – poof!"

The author, yet again, scored with the characterization. Stevie was portrayed perfectly as the flawed, troubled teenager going through what can be only described as the most difficult phase in her life. Though I found myself getting really annoyed by her at the beginning, by and by I got to understand just what she was going through and did I feel sorry for her! The supporting cast was great.  I connected with all of them, 
from Stevie's dad to her friend, Ashley, at the rehab. But still, I felt a need for depth in their characterization. For instance, we get to see Ashley going through a great deal of pain and hardship, but we saw little in the way of closure in her story. The same could be said of Stevie's parents. Nevertheless, one character that really struck me as astounding was Anna, Stevie's therapist- aka The Shrink. She was really supportive of Stevie and understood her in a way no one else did.

“Promise was like a precious stone, she told me: hypnotizing, but after a while the weight of it could sink you.” 

There were a number of relationships featured beautifully throughout the book. The relationship Stevie had with her brother, Joshua was so lovely and it caused me great grief when I read about his untimely death. I REALLY wanted to slap Stevie for acting the way she did at that time and Eden. God, Eden. She was the sole reason for things to go so haywire and I can quite frankly say she was the character I hated the most in the book- with Stevie's mom coming a not-so-close second. Favorite characters? Josh and Anna of course. Stevie started off feeling very wary of The Shrink, but with time, she grew to trust her and it evolved into a beautiful- if tentative- relationship. Stevie also forms a slow friendship with Ashley, 
her roommate whom she wouldn't even appreciate at first. I'm really glad for things turning out the way they did for them.

"I imagine myself dead. Cold. Perfect and unbreathing with a still, stone heart. The weight of my useless body rotting in the ground. My soul lighter than paper and drifting far from its fleshy prison."

This book was dark and even depressing at times.  I did like the ending, even though it felt a bit forced to me. All said, n
ot everyone will enjoy this book. You may feel you're unable to connect with Stevie, and yes, you might find the need to close the book for a few minutes to just breathe and feel thankful for life. But when you do connect to Stevie, Haston takes you on a journey you'll not forget very soon. Meg Haston highlights the complexity of eating disasters and what it does to people with equanimity. The raw emotions, the heartrendingly blunt narration and the shockingly poignant message the author conveys all make this book one heck of a ride.

“If Girl A departs sanity around the time her mother abandons her, assuming she is travelling at full speed towards self-destruction, how long will it take to reach her dead brother?”

The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 4/5
Enjoy factor: 3/5


  1. I'm sad to hear how depressing this book is, but it sounds like the characterization is really good. I don't know if I'll read this one because of the subject matter. It's just not something that interests me at all. I'm glad the sibling relationship was a great element though! Lovely review :)

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    1. The characterization was one of the best aspects of this book! It was all truly depressing, and I wouldn't even recommend this book to you if the subject matter doesn't appeal to you because the book is all about dealing with eating disorders.. and coming to terms with dealing with the loss of a loved one. The sibling relationship was great- it even ended up making me want an elder brother :D Thank you, Rach!


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