Review for Paperweight by Meg Haston!
Characters: **** (4/5)
Plot: ***** (5/5)
Writing Quality: ***** (5/5)
Amazon Rating: **** (4.5/5)
When Stephanie’s mother leaves without warning, Stephanie wants to lose weight. This obsession with becoming the perfect daughter turns into an ugly, monstrous eating disorder. Her older brother Joshua is the only person brave enough to mention it. Meanwhile at Stephanie’s writing class, she meets Eden, a party-girl who introduces Stephanie to alcohol and becomes her only friend. When Joshua dies, not only is her life turned upside down, but she also feels responsible. His unexpected death leads Stephanie to make a promise: On the anniversary of Joshua’s death, she will end her life. Twenty-seven days before his anniversary, she is shipped to an eating-disorder treatment center in the-middle-of-nowhere, New Mexico. Without any privacy, planning her death is nearly impossible. Stephanie is forced to grieve and recover under the watchful eye of her personal therapist, Anna. Is Joshua’s anniversary going to be the day Stephanie takes her last breath?
When I first started reading this book, I was really annoyed with the main character, Stephanie. She really hates herself; especially her body. Personally, I couldn’t relate to her problems because I love my body and have no problem eating. I wanted to shake her shoulders and yell at her: “You are beautiful the way you are! Don’t let anyone else tell you differently!” But I can’t do that, obviously. Even so, I did feel sympathetic.The author, Meg Haston, portrayed the pressure society puts on teenage girls to be perfect in a very different, but effective, way. The message of this novel is that everyone struggles with loving their body at one point in their life, but there is no such thing as being “perfect”. Haston also shed some light on the fact that parents have a huge impact on their children. Many of the girls in the treatment center resulted to eating disorders because they felt that their parents didn’t love them the way they were. I realized that if one of my parents told me that I wasn’t good enough, I would forever feel insecure. Parents play such an important role in the growth of their children, and this book really shows that.
I gave the characters 4 stars out of 5 for a few reasons. One reason is that a few characters weren’t developed as much as they could have been. Joshua was a flimsy outline with half a personality. The dad was half of that. The mother was a bit more clear, but I would have liked to understand her personality and relationship with Stephanie, Joshua, and even the husband. The plot was as perfect as a plot can get. The flashbacks Stephanie had were slipped into the present day cleverly and without confusion. These memories were of the night Joshua died, but they are told in fragments during the whole length of the story. By being kept in the dark about what went on that night, mystery is added to the story. I constantly wanted to know how did he die? And it really made a usually non-suspenseful story, well, suspenseful. The writing quality is very good. It’s a challenge to translate a teenager’s slang and thinking process into writing and have it make sense, but Haston executed with precision.
This book doesn’t have the cheesy, heart-warming romance like The Fault in our Stars by John Green, but it does contain the emotional challenges of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and the difficulties of social acceptance of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I am a hard-core romantic, but this story still pulled my heart strings. The protagonist is a bit of a downer (okay, extremely negative), very suicidal, and has a horrible past, but in her own way, she is brave. She might not be a role-model quite yet, but simply by dealing with her struggles, she is admirable. The ending didn’t give me as much closure as I would’ve liked, but I still enjoyed the book.