By Emily Pooley
PaperWeight is Meg Haston’s first Young Adult Novel. Haston also has a middle grade series called, How to Rock, which was made into a Nickelodeon show.
Paperweight is told in a diary style in the point of view of Stevie, a 17 year old girl who thinks she has life figured out, and doesn’t need or want help from anyone else. She doesn’t see her eating disorder as a problem, but a solution. Her therapist is always trying to get her to talk about her feelings, and Stevie has no intention of sharing anytime soon. Stevie’s roommate Ashley, can’t even relate to her, she has no control as a bulimic, and, on top of that, Stevie needs to stay strong for her brother Josh. She has to just survive this treatment camp, and maybe Eden will be able to get her out of here. Getting stuck there was mostly Eden’s fault anyway.
Haston brings truth to the reality of an eating disorder, and doesn’t shy away from any of the experiences. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically diagnosed eating disorder. NEDA also states that anorexia has the highest mortality rate for mental illnesses. Haston takes a look at a teenage girl’s life, who feels like a failure for her mom leaving and guilty for her brother dying, and shows how heartbreaking a mental illness can be if left without help. She also realistically paints a picture of what help at a treatment camp would look like for a large group of teenage girls dealing with eating disorders. It is hard for each girl.They don’t all want to be there and have issues becoming friends.
“But we are a group of girls so overwhelmed by our mere existence that it’s almost paralyzing, the idea of dealing with the “big picture”issues. It’s the reason we got this way to begin with. The reason a single caloric unit takes on such importance, the reason the pound becomes our currency of worth. These are things we can manage.” -Stevie Paperweight
I think that Meg Haston did a beautiful job sharing Stevie’s story with us. I felt pain discovering what Stevie went through with her mom. I wanted to reach out to her and talk to her more about how Josh made her feel, and what losing him did to her, just like Anna, her shrink, was trying to do. While Haston writes a compelling story with plot points that I could not have predicted, it wasn’t edited as closely as I would have liked. I found myself having to read sentences a few times to make sense of the wording. I can often get through a book and be okay with the errors I pick up on, but this one had one too many for me to ignore. Even with that said, I found the story so amazing that I would recommend it to anyone looking for a heartrending character and moving journey.
If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder or exercise issue, even if it seems harmless, know that you are not alone. Without guidance, these issues can have very serious side effects. Reach out to someone and check out these resources:
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
NEDA’s Help Line: 1-800-931-2237