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I Belong

Early Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston


AuthorMeg Haston

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: July 7, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10006233574X (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13:978-0062335746 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


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 Stevie’s journey as she struggles not only with this 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.

Quick & Dirty: Terrifyingly authentic, this book is raw, gripping, and devastating.

Opening Sentence: Twenty-seven days to freedom, and I am caged.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Stevie is trapped. Her life has became hell as she descends closer and closer to death. Every day she mourns the loss of her brother, the brother whom she grieves for and carries guilt for. She counts calories as a desperate way to grasp control on her life, but now even that is slipping away, in the treatment center where girls like her with eating disorders go to heal. Stevie doesn’t think she needs healing — in fact, she doesn’t want it. Because the anniversary of her brother’s death is approaching and she has a plan for that day. She plans for it to be her last. Stevie’s journey towards recovery is raw and gritty in this novel about forgiveness and regret.

I didn’t know much going into Paperweight. I knew vaguely that it was about a girl with a bad eating disorder who is faced with a treatment center, but I didn’t realize just how painful this book would be. It’s very hard reading from Stevie’s perspective. She’s in so, so much pain and is teetering on the edge of a cliff. There are so many different interconnecting things that took a part in this pain — her guilt, her anger towards her mother, her confused feelings towards her “best friend”. Sometimes I would have to stop reading, take a deep breath, and remember that happy things existed.

The development of Stevie was the most important element of the story. She starts off super bitter and angry all the time. She sets up a wall of hatred, for herself and others, in order to block out the brunt of her guilt. She could be kind of bitchy, forgive my language. She mocked the girls that were healing and looked down on them. She only respected the ones that fought getting better — she felt that they were the strongest. That was hard to watch. As the story goes on, very slowly she regains herself. She begins to forge friendships with other girls and is able to consider the possibility of not killing herself. There were a few roadblocks. She was furious at herself for, at one point, eating more than her usual measly amount, and she thought she was showing weakness. For a long time, she truly was hopeless, and it was frightening. Thankfully she grew to be a whole new Stevie after coaxing herself there.

There were some side characters as well that I enjoyed. One was the therapist for Stevie, Anna, whom was called Shrink in Stevie’s head. Her approach was gentle and she didn’t push too hard, but I think she played a good part in showing Stevie that there was a possibility for a better future. I also liked watching the other girls in the house grow. They each had individual stories and problems, and each was fighting a different battle. Watching Stevie group together with the others was heartwarming, especially in a book that was so dark and depressing.

This book dealt with a very sensitive subject in eating disorders. It really helps you to understand what those who go through it feel. I think that the author executed the painful subject matter with expertise and wasn’t afraid to add lots of raw emotion. If you are looking for a cute contemporary than this is not it; there is no fluff in this book.  There wasn’t a romance either. It was about a character’s journey towards forgiving herself and moving on. There was so much grit in this book, it kind of reminds me of Bleed Like Me. Go ahead, read it, it’s wonderfully done. But be prepared to shed more than a few tears!

Notable Scene:

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.

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!

I will disappear.


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Paperweight. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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