- “Paperweight” by Meg Haston
- ASIN: B00OG8JBNO
- Number of Pages: 304
- Publisher: Harper Teen
- Publication Date: 7 July 2015
- Date Read: August 2015
- Format and Source: eBook
- Rating: ★★★
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.
Promise was like a precious stone, she told me: hypnotizing, but after a while the weight of it could sink you.
In 2012, I embarked on my own weight loss journey. Regulating my food intake, as well as getting up every morning to do a 5KM walk and doing some exercises within the day was difficult, but the most challenging thing I had to face wasn’t the physical pain, but the pressures of the thoughts my mind created. I have always been fat, always been a lover of food, and I didn’t want to feel hungry. While being anorexic didn’t pose a threat, I admit I had bulimic tendencies that time – by wanting to eat a lot, and feeling guilty after, that I had to throw it all up to ease the guilt. I didn’t become a bulimic (thank heavens) and I am still obese, but stories about eating disorders and other psychological problems has been something that I find really interesting, for it is through these books (and TV shows) that I get to find would be companions – making me feel I am not alone.
I got to see about this book while checking for another book. The cover was very interesting, and knowing that it has been quite a while since I last read a book about ED (the last was when I read Portia DeRossi’s memoir, “Unbearable Lightness”), I decided to check it out.
In the past, I have watched a few movies with this theme and it would often start with the main character waking up very early to run for a few kilometers, then binging on food and feeling guilty, then they will check in a facility, but it will only take a death within newly found friends before the main character finally decides to commit into the program to recovery. Thankfully, this book wasn’t like that. At the center of the story is Stevie, who had a lot to juggle in her head – the guilt of losing a brother, the difficulty of living a life without her brother, and the adjustment she had to go through inside a facility. Stevie was a character difficult to like, but I appreciated reading her thoughts. This book also didn’t concentrate on the actual eating disorder, which I liked in a way because the book wasn’t really triggering, although part of it I felt I missed out on. By not really focusing on the eating disorder, I didn’t understand the core of Stevie’s problem – how she really felt (physically, mainly) as well as the explanation behind her diagnosis (I thought all along she had Anorexia because she refused to eat all the time, but I was wrong…but the author didn’t provide a short explanation that would help the readers distinguish the differences between the different eating disorders). I also didn’t understand the main reason why she became who she was. Sure, she told about her mother, but reasons weren’t fully explained and I think she already had the problem even before she told the backstory about her mother, so I admit it was difficult for me to fully empathize with her. Although, I would say Stevie’s voice was very strong, like she was a real person and that the story wasn’t really fiction.
The book jumps from past to present, and I liked that it was told in good, not-so-confusing way. There was a mystery behind Stevie’s past, which were all laid out nicely, but if you are not into this way of writing, you might find it confusing. Personally, I think the writing was good and easy too read – it was a book that anyone would fly through despite its heavy topic.
Stevie’s life in the facility reminded me of “Girl, Interrupted.” The supporting characters she met at the facility were a cast of different people that I found fun to be with. They were all broken, they all wanted control and independence, but at the same time they became each other’s strength, something we all needed. My favorite supporting character has to be Anna, her therapist. Anna was a very effective kind of “teacher” – she was sweet, yet firm with her ways to help Stevie.
The book ended on a positive note, grateful that the author didn’t go through the cliché road of having to kill a character to prove a point, but I would also say that it wasn’t really a happy, happy ending, at least not yet – something you have to read to know why. Overall, while there were things lacking in the book, I truly appreciated having to read Stevie’s story. She may be a character difficult to relate with, but her story was something we could all relate with, whether we have eating disorder or not. If you have problems within your family, or is struggling with your own personality, this book can be something you can draw inspiration with – not with the suicidal tendencies, of course… but with speaking your truth, and carrying your own weight, no matter how heavy it is. I guess those are the most valuable lesson this book had to offer.