This emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, in the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.
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 meal time, 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.
Paperweight follows seventeen-year-old Stevie’s journey as she struggles not only with a life-threatening eating disorder, but with the question of whether she can ever find absolution for the mistakes of her past…and whether she truly deserves to.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’m going to begin this review in a way that is unusual for me: with a warning. The emotional trigger potential in this story is a large one: while Stevie is dealing with her own very large set of emotional issues, the manifestation from this trauma is expressed in self-harming behaviors. Those with experience of utilizing these behaviors to cope with pain and trauma may find difficulty in reading this story.
At seventeen Stevie has faced more than most two or three times her age: anger at her father for placing her in the center, guilt and anger over her brother’s death, some anxiety and a bit of control issues that have devolved into anorexia. Her story is told in flashbacks, with insets of the present moment and other mundanities that allow her own interior obsessive monologue and seemingly endless moan and groan take over give readers a sense of someone who is not particularly likable. And she isn’t at first, but as her story and history are...
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When we first met the protagonist of "Paperweight," Stephanie "Stevie" Delisle, she has just arrived at an eating disorders treatment center in the middle of nowhere (i.e. near the desert) against her will. Labeled bulimic, she's annoyed at pretty much everything about the center, including her bubbly roommate Ashley and her therapist, the hippie-ish Anna, whom she refers to as "Shrink." Her older brother died a year ago, and the reader soon realizes that Stevie plans to join him on what she terms the fast approaching "Anniversary." We also learn that her mother, a high powered lawyer who always seemed to disapprove of Stevie's weight, moved out several years ago, and Stevie's only friend from home (besides her brother Josh) is the charismatic, college-aged Eden, who Stevie meets in a writing seminar and who introduces Stevie to the joys of alcohol, partying and eventually, sex. Fortunately, for our protagonist, she has a therapist straight out of a...
You can read this review and more on my blog, Caught Read Handed.
Paperweight is an extremely difficult book to review. It’s also an extremely difficult book to read. I’ve never had an eating disorder and it was hard for me to read this. I can’t even imagine how triggering this book could possibly be for someone who’s had (or has) an eating disorder. Paperweight makes you uncomfortable. It pulls you completely out of your comfort zone and doesn’t hold a damn thing back. It puts everything out there in the most raw and honest way possible. And it’s difficult to read it because of that. But it is so worth your time.
Haston has done a wonderful thing with this book. She’s created Stevie, a girl with Anorexia Nervosa, who believes that her disease makes up everything she is. Again, I’ve never had an eating disorder nor have I ever been in a treatment facility. But I feel like Stevie’s story is authentic. It feels...
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