Warning up front: this book centers around a girl in treatment for an eating disorder, so this may not be the right review/book for you to read.
“The thing was, I needed to be owned. I needed someone to say, This girl is mine. That´s what family is for, but mine was almost gone. There was no one to claim me but Eden and my sickness. So I gave myself to both.”
In Paperweight, our protagonist Stevie (which is my favorite new nickname for Stephanie) has been forced into treatment for an eating disorder that’s threatening her life. She starts out the book, which covers her first two weeks in treatment, feeling determined to end her life on the anniversary of her brother’s death — which is rapidly approaching. She refuses treatment, and despises the fact that they have her classified as a bulimic instead of an anorexic because she feels like it shows that she has no self-control. We get glimpses into her recent history, including her mother leaving the family, her brother’s death and her twisted relationship with a girl named Eden. We watch as she goes through treatment, trying not to connect with a shrink who desperately wants to help her. And as we learn more about Stevie and her illness, we watch desperately for signs that she can recover.
It’s a very fascinating, as well as difficult, book to read. I have never personally struggled with an eating disorder, but my best friend was diagnosed with bulimia in high school, and I have seen its effects firsthand. The author pulls no punches here, letting us see inside Stevie’s head and see how she views herself and the world. The group therapy sessions with the other girls in treatment reveal different girls’ experiences with eating disorders. We also see these girls struggle with major family issues, physical and emotional abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
My main complaint about this book was that it was too short. I wish we’d had more time with Stevie to see how her progress did (or did not) continue. I think this book is geared mostly toward young adults, but it’s extremely well-written and deals with some very adult issues.