Review Blog

Sep 09 2015

Paperweight by Meg Haston

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Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471404566
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Eating disorders are not an easy subject to tackle in the slightest. The psychology of them is far more complicated than simply 'not eating', and it's a topic that's rarely discussed seriously in teen novels.
As a beautiful and complex examination of eating disorders and the people who suffer them, Meg Haston's Paperweight fills this gap - and then some. The main character in Paperweight is a seventeen-year-old girl called Stevie, who has just been sent to a treatment centre for eating disorders 'in the middle of nowhere' (well technically, New Mexico). However, she doesn't mean to stay there for long - in twenty-seven days, in fact, she plans to disappear forever. However, as Stevie starts developing connections with the counsellors and fellow patients, she begins to reflect on her past, and the choices that got her where she is.
Paperweight is an ingenious novel that treats the complicated topic of eating disorders in an intelligent, highly sensitive way, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the complex worlds of anorexia and bulimia. The author herself writes in an afterword that the story was largely inspired by her own experiences with eating disorders - both as a therapist and a survivor - and naturally this lends a particular ring of truth to the novel. The characters are developed in wonderful, subtle ways - particularly Stevie, whose life is revealed in strategically placed flashbacks, and who stands out as one of the most realistic teenage girls in recent fiction. The simple and engaging writing style hooks readers from the first page and barely lets up for almost three hundred pages.
Paperweight is a brilliant, oftentimes heartbreaking novel that brings new light to the complicated world of eating disorders and the people who have them. Despite the heavy subject matter, it's an enthralling read, and a very impressive debut from a talented new author.
Rebecca Adams

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