Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

PaperweightTitle: Paperweight
Author: Meg Haston
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date published:July 7th 2015
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 288

Rating: 4/5

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. 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.


Trigger Warnings: Eating Disorders, Self-Harm, Suicide Attempt

What I Liked

  • I really appreciated the dedication that is placed in portraying the therapists and psychiatrists in such a positive light. Typically, the shrinks in books always seem very distant from the protagonist, but in Paperweight, Haston portrays her shrinks as relatable and integral to the recovery process. While Stevie is determined to hate her shrink initially, it’s well noted how subtly yet surely her trust and respect is gained for her therapist, Anna. The relationship formed between the two is something I really acknowledged throughout the book and truly appreciated. It was always a joy to
  • This book tackles the brutal realities of eating disorders head-on. From her own experiences and research done, Meg Haston write an unfiltered and honest view of what it’s like suffering from an eating disorder.
  • As an outsider looking in, I felt like I learned a lot about nervosa anorexia. I’ve read about eating disorders in other books, but they were never quite fleshed out like it was in this book. Here, I really got to see what was going on in Stevie’s mind and actually understand why they were happening. There is always a trigger that causes everything to happen. And for Stevie, it was learning to forgive herself after all that has happened.
    • From what I read in other reviews, it seems like Paperweight gives an accurate representation of the experiences of patients suffering with anorexia.
  • I loved about this was that even though Stevie was so closed off and determined to get out of the center, the girls and staffs around her were still so supportive and open to befriending her.
    • It really makes you realize how the road to recovery is never a one person journey.
    • The development of her friendship with Ashley was so wholesome. The pivoting point for Stevie was when she discovered Ashley’s own struggles and focused instead on protecting Ashley than herself.
  • The story comes full circle when Rain joins the treatment center, and Stevie sees a reflection of what she was like when she at first, determined to find a way out and to still have control of her weight. Stevie’s growth is slow and subtle, yet this moment makes her realize how much she’s changed since her first days at the treatment center.
  • No romance. It was surprisingly nice to see this book have no romantic interests involved in the book.
    • So many mental illness books often have a romantic subplot, and I feel like it really muddies the meaning and message the author is often trying to get across about mental illness. This book however succeeds at excluding it, which I think in hindsight was a smart move.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Stevie seems unrealistically dramatic over quite a few things. She was extremely unlikable for the first half of the book, but I guess it was the way Haston chose to portray her. It drew me back to the phrase, “you are not your eating disorder.”
  • There was a lot of unnecessary suspense that played out in her flashbacks. The book took place in the treatment center, where memories of the past played out with moments of the present. Her flashbacks were cutoff in ways that made it seemed like cliffhangers, and it took away attention from her main story of recovery.
  • Overall, it was just that a lot of situations seemed to conveniently placed and over-dramatized to make it more fitting for a movie than a book.
  • There were times where I had difficulty relating to Stevie, but this was because I couldn’t relate to her experiences. It’s not the book’s fault though.


Final Thoughts

I’ll admit that I had a kind of hard time relating to the main character, but I definitely did admire Stevie for how she overcame her struggles and became a better person out of it. I recommend it for those who wish to be able to emphasize more with those with mental illnesses or want to experiment with reading books about mental illness.

2 thoughts on “Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

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