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4.6 8
by Meg Haston

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This emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, in the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.

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


This emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, in the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.

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 seventeen-year-old Stevie’s journey as she struggles not only with a 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/04/2015
Books about teenagers with eating disorders are numerous (as are teens with eating disorders); Haston’s contribution to the genre stands out for the complexity of its characters and for small, telling details that demonstrate just how difficult recovery can be. Seventeen-year-old Stevie has been restricting her eating since her mother deserted the family; Stevie’s father is in no shape to challenge her, and though her brother, Josh, tries to reach out, Stevie ignores him. Then Josh dies in an accident that Stevie believes is her fault. When her father finally sends her to rehab, a furious Stevie takes comfort in the red bracelet that marks her non-compliance. Haston (the How to Rock series) expertly renders Stevie’s scorn and suspicion, and it’s tempting to root for her badass defiance—except that it will kill her. As Stevie slowly comes to trust her therapist and care about the roommate she initially dismissed as chubby, readers will instead look for her to give up the illusion of control and find a way to accept the weight of her past and face the idea of a future. Ages 14–up. Agency: Alloy Entertainment. (July)
VOYA, August 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 3) - Jane Van Wiemokly
Sent by her father to an eating disorder treatment center, seventeen-year-old Stevie resents that she is losing control over her determination to kill herself by starvation. Her life has been one difficult blow after another: her mother has abandoned the family to live and work in Paris, and her brother, Josh, died in a car crash almost a year ago, a crash that she believes she caused. Planning very carefully by counting every little calorie, she aims to be dead by the anniversary of Josh’s death. Her assigned therapist, who she thinks of as Shrink, tries to help her recover. The teen girls who share her group cottage are there for similar reasons but know what is in store for Stevie, who still thinks she can follow her plan. Stevie resists and resists treatment, until she is too tired to resist anymore.The scenes at the treatment center with the therapist, the other girls, and the group sessions about food and eating all come across as realistic, showing what a struggle eating disorders can be. Stevie’s guilt over her brother’s death is crushing, and it is questionable whether she will start on the road to recovery. When the subjects of a story are anorexia and bulimia, self-blame for someone’s death, family dysfunction, and intended suicide, one might think the reader would be thoroughly depressed. However, the writing is such that there is something about Stevie that makes the reader root for her and hope for recovery in this absorbing story. Reviewer: Jane Van Wiemokly; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This realistic tale opens as Stephanie (Stevie) arrives at a 60-day residential treatment facility for eating disorder, located in rural New Mexico. Back in Atlanta, Stevie thought she had it all figured out—how to starve herself slowly (except when she got drunk, binged, and purged) so that she would be dead in a year. The treatment center proves to be a challenge, though, and a strict routine dictates Stevie's existence day to day: therapy with "Shrink," carefully portioned meals and snacks designed to help Stevie gain weight, group therapy, and medications. The teen resists her therapist's efforts to talk about her past, but flashbacks reveal the events that led to the extreme illness she is now battling. Joshua (her beloved "Irish twin" brother) died in a car accident nearly one year ago and the protagonist blames herself. An enabling friend Eden seems to be a mysterious reason for the accident. And Stevie's restrictive and distant mother abandoned the family to go live in Paris. The girl's exterior armor is painstakingly chipped away (with setbacks, of course) and she begins to uncover the truth of her past until it all becomes clear to Stevie and to readers. Despite her flaws, it is hard not to feel for Stevie. A carefully constructed buildup still lends to a quick read, which is hard to put down. Haston deals respectfully with the difficult subject matters of eating disorders and focuses on the recovery rather than the disease. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls (Viking, 2009).—Tara Kehoe, New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton
Kirkus Reviews
Struggles with self-image and grief fill this novel. It's been nearly a year since Stevie's brother, Josh, died, and in that time, the eating disorder she already had has accelerated. Sent to a treatment facility in New Mexico by her father, Stevie is resistant and angry. She is still upset over her mother's leaving the family, and worse, Stevie believes she killed her brother. Now she just wants to be home with Eden, her friend and hookup partner, and to carry out her plans for the one-year anniversary of Josh's death: to starve herself to death. Between her frequent therapy sessions and her concern about her roommate, Stevie tries to confront what really led to Josh's death, in passages that occasionally moralize. Until she actually grieves the death of her brother, she won't be able to recover from her eating disorder or learn how to make better choices. But choosing to live isn't easy, Stevie discovers. There are so many issues at play in this novel that readers may find it difficult to see Stevie as a person instead of a bundle of problems. The slow unveiling of the events of the previous summer, before Josh's death, doesn't create any tension, and overall the story moves from plot point to plot point. A diligent problem novel if not a gripping one. (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)
HL600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Meg Haston is the author of How to Rock Braces and Glasses and How to Rock Best Friends and Frenemies. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida, where she writes and works as a counselor in an independent school. Paperweight is her first young adult novel.

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Paperweight 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book but if your not a fan for deep stuff or deppressing stuff you probably wont like it but i really did and after you should read suicide notes from beautiful girls
Anonymous 15 days ago
This book made me realize the very serious depth of eating disorders. I found this book fascinating and insightful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Havent been able to put it down!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was different but still very good, if you and interested in mental health and eating disorders this is a good one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im in my early twenties & like to read books about ED, but most teen fiction ED books bring in a lot of the drama of being in highschool. This book takes place enitrely in a ED treatmeant ficility so all that highschool drama that I've out grown has been left out of this book. Over all I really enjoyed it & it is definitly going into my collectin of favorite ED books
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
This book had many great messages to its readers. Stevie had many concerns that she was trying to juggle at one time. As an adult, I don’t if I could have handled it very well yet here she was a teen trying to keep it all together. Her eating disorder, somewhere she feels she has control in her life, has landed her in rehab just when the anniversary of her brother’s death is approaching. She had big plans for this first anniversary and now her father pulled this on her. Determined not to ruin her plans, she plays along with the rules of the camp but they’re not as stupid as she thinks they are. She’s persistent and she knows she only has a set number of days at the treatment center yet the staff sees the person hidden under her clothes, who will win this battle? I truly enjoyed the conversation that Stevie has with Shrink; I feel this message spoke volumes. Shrink tells Stevie that she needs to quit wearing labels, and that she is not responsible for everything that occurs in her life and that she needs to quit beating herself up and move forward in her life. Shrink speaks from the heart; she lets herself go and tells Stevie the things she needs to hear. The truth is finally spilled out for her. Shrink is there, she never gives up on her even when Stevie is at her worse. Stevie is a locked box, so closed up, her walls so tall that someone needs to break them down to find the person that needs someone badly. Stevie does find joy, it’s those moments in the novel where she is actually having a good time, I’m smiling and I realize there is hope.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read Paperweight because I am drawn to books about heavy issues such as mental illness and eating disorders. As most of you know, I deal with mental illness and I have always had a lot of body image issues and have struggled with not eating, binge eating and purging. Luckily the anorexic and bulimic behaviors are no longer something I personally struggle with, they are such vital topics to talk about. I find it therapeutic when reading books like these, when it is handled realistically, with sensitivity and doesn't hold back on the emotional involvement. Stevie, the main character in Paperweight has just entered into treatment. She is not at the place where she wants help, or believes that she needs it. She actually wants her disorder to kill her, or at the very least, guilt over her brother's death, which she considers her fault, makes her want to die. That aspect, her feeling like her brother's death was her fault is another reason I was curious about this one. I know that survivor's guilt and grief has a way of distorting reality, so I wanted to know what really happened and how that ties into the person she is today, with the struggles she has. I liked the relationships that she formed there, even though she was really reluctant at first. She had a very good therapist who was open with her, and was good at asking the right questions. She realized when she pushed too hard and she was awesome enough to apologize. Her roomie and her got off to a rough start, but I liked the bonds that they ended up forming. They shared parts of their past, and she realized what a non-judgmental and supportive friendship could be like. The flashbacks showing her relationship with her brother were really nice. They of course are colored by her guilt and things she wished she had done differently. This is a great use of sibling dynamics, and I love how he was a big brother and tried to be there for her and also protect her. He was the only one who noticed and addressed her adversarial relationship with food and the weight that she lost. In her memories we also get to meet her friend Eden. They had a complicated relationship, but she is the one who introduced and facilitated Stevie's drinking. Stevie had to realize a lot about that friendship and that it was unhealthy for her. The character growth in this one was pronounced but realistic. It took a lot for her to realize that she was sick and to have the desire to want to change, and beat her illness. Nothing was a miracle or over night cure, which is true to life, but it was a big catalyst that helped her want to change, and realize that she can honor her brother by living, instead of the warped idea that her death on the anniversary would somehow be big enough event for the year anniversary since he died. Posted on: Brandi Breathes Books Blog Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy) for free. I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not effected by the book being free. Bottom Line: Dark and realistic look at a girl in treatment for her eating disorder.
gaele More than 1 year ago
I’m going to begin this review in a way that is unusual for me: with a warning. The emotional trigger potential in this story is a large one: while Stevie is dealing with her own very large set of emotional issues, the manifestation from this trauma is expressed in self-harming behaviors. Those with experience of utilizing these behaviors to cope with pain and trauma may find difficulty in reading this story. At seventeen Stevie has faced more than most two or three times her age: anger at her father for placing her in the center, guilt and anger over her brother’s death, some anxiety and a bit of control issues that have devolved into anorexia. Her story is told in flashbacks, with insets of the present moment and other mundanities that allow her own interior obsessive monologue and seemingly endless moan and groan take over give readers a sense of someone who is not particularly likable. And she isn’t at first, but as her story and history are revealed throughout the story, you come to at least understand where the anger and defensiveness comes from, if not completely relating to the issues. What Haston does to great effect is provide readers with the damaged and a person in Anna, the therapist, to help Stevie sort out those issues and find a way to grieve in a healthy way, take control of her out of control emotions that are running her life. Because, Stevie is not in charge of her actions or emotions, despite her very clear plans to end her own life. Gradually the story unfolds, how her brother died, why she is so out of control, why she tried to equate emotional control with calorie control, and even teaching Stevie to learn to relate to the world and people around her. Slowly growing, while not a read in one sitting book for me, this story is a glimpse in to what I could reasonably expect to see in a teen with great issues that resulted in self-harming behaviors. I would recommend this book to parents of teens first, to open the potential of dialogue about issues, large or small, that everyone encounters at one time in their life. I received an eARC copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: al conclusions are my own responsibility.