Paperweight – Meg Haston
I don’t really know how this review will go or even if it will resemble a review of just a pile of words, I just kinda felt that this needed more than a paragraph in a round up, so before I start rambling, let’s put out a few trigger warnings shall we? This is a book about a girl with an eating disorder in an eating disorder unit who is contemplating suicide after the death of a family member. There are mentions of several other mental illnesses, addiction, suicide attempts, that sort of thing. So you know, cheery stuff. Just make sure if any of those things are difficult for you that you keep yourself safe if you choose to read this or keep this book aside.
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.
The main thing I took away from this book was just how raw it was. I’ve read a couple of books about mental health and eating disorders but this one really stuck with me. I felt like I needed to do it justice by explaining it properly, even though I don’t think I’ll really be able to do that.
Paperweight is just such a complexly written account of eating disorders and how destructive and consuming they are. The other two books about this subject I’ve read were Laurie Halse Anderson’s Winter Girls and Portia Di Rossi’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, both of them read were well written, (Portia Di Rossi’s of course being an autobiography makes the whole thing much more harrowing, those were her actual thoughts and feelings), but came across to me a little like how to books, which I think is a danger with books on this subject. It’s hard to explain that someone is starving or purging without explanation. Paperweight on the other hand had none of the how, it focused much more on the why. Why had this disease taken control, why was Stevie letting it keep its grasp on her? It was the why that really fleshed out not just her story, but those of the other girls around her at the treatment centre. It was also interesting to see why each of the girls she was with had come to embrace this way of life, how each of their motivations for both their illness and their recovery differed. I found the whole thing so sensitively written and well researched, it seemed to so realistically portray Stevie’s triggers and reading it felt a lot like going on the journey with her.
If I had to pick a fault – which I guess is only fair – I’d say the big secret took a little too long to come out. But other than that, I wrote a post about books with mental health as their subject for mental health awareness week where I pointed out all the things I was tired of seeing in books about mental health and honestly, I didn’t find a single one of them here.