- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen (July 7, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006233574X
- ISBN-13: 978-0062335746
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 97 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paperweight Hardcover – July 7, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This realistic tale opens as Stephanie (Stevie) arrives at a 60-day residential treatment facility for eating disorder, located in rural New Mexico. Back in Atlanta, Stevie thought she had it all figured out—how to starve herself slowly (except when she got drunk, binged, and purged) so that she would be dead in a year. The treatment center proves to be a challenge, though, and a strict routine dictates Stevie's existence day to day: therapy with "Shrink," carefully portioned meals and snacks designed to help Stevie gain weight, group therapy, and medications. The teen resists her therapist's efforts to talk about her past, but flashbacks reveal the events that led to the extreme illness she is now battling. Joshua (her beloved "Irish twin" brother) died in a car accident nearly one year ago and the protagonist blames herself. An enabling friend Eden seems to be a mysterious reason for the accident. And Stevie's restrictive and distant mother abandoned the family to go live in Paris. The girl's exterior armor is painstakingly chipped away (with setbacks, of course) and she begins to uncover the truth of her past until it all becomes clear to Stevie and to readers. Despite her flaws, it is hard not to feel for Stevie. A carefully constructed buildup still lends to a quick read, which is hard to put down. Haston deals respectfully with the difficult subject matters of eating disorders and focuses on the recovery rather than the disease. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls (Viking, 2009).—Tara Kehoe, New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton
★ “Haston’s contribution to the genre stands out for the complexity of its characters and for small, telling details that demonstrate just how difficult recovery can be.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A carefully constructed buildup still lends to a quick read, which is hard to put down.” (School Library Journal)
“Haunting yet hopeful, this book offers a realistic portrayal of eating disorders, guilt, and anxiety.” (Brightly)
Top customer reviews
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Needless to say, Paperweight is not a light-hearted contemporary. It is not a book to be picked up lightly. And yet, it’s the most realistic portrayal of not only anorexia/bulimia, but of pure, self-hating, suicidal depression that I’ve ever encountered. By immersing the reader inside Stevie’s perspective, alternating the present day treatment center narrative with memories of what led her down this road in the first place, Meg Haston shows how eating disorders are about so much more than food, and adds a mystery element that builds suspense throughout. This is also one of those rare books where not a single sentence is wasted, where the gorgeous language itself is enough to keep you reading.
A big reason this is 5 stars for me is the honesty with which Haston portrays the recovery process. It’s so easy to write a story about someone who goes from totally suicidal to totally “fixed” by the end of the story—but be warned, Paperweight is not that story. Rather, Haston writes the honest truth about recovery: it’s a long, brutal road, filled with temptations, because eating disorders (and depression) are not something that can be “cured” like the flu. While this might sound horribly depressing, it’s honestly refreshing to someone who’s struggled with depression for the better part of 10 years—because it’s true. You get better slowly, and sometimes you end up getting worse again and having to start all over, but it’s better than nothing because you’re alive. Books like this go a long way toward destigmatizing what it’s really like to live with a mental illness, not just “suffer” from one and then get better.
full disclosure: This book could be very triggering if you’re struggling with depression, self-harm/suicidal thoughts, or an eating disorder. Mostly, I recommend this book to folks who’ve never struggled with depression or eating disorders. Read this with an open mind, allow yourself to feel what Stevie feels, and you’ll be a lot closer to understanding what these disorders really do to a person.
I cried reading this. On the bus. And I'm not an easy crier…
If you don't mind difficult subject matter and some heart-wrenching, this book is definitely worth reading.
Beautifully written! My fav line is one, and I paraphrase, "family are the people you stand next to when the bad things happen" - wow.
This is also the first book I've read that deals with Eating Disorders, and I'm glad I've read it. Paperweight gave me a whole new prospective on this sad, sad subject. If you've ever had a ED I would brace yourself, this book is brutally honest.