Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Book review: Paperweight by Meg Haston


My edition: Paperback, to be published on 2 July 2015 by Hot Key Books, 285 pages.

Description: Struggling to deal with her brother's death and a past she refuses to confront, Stevie knows she has problems. But she's still furious about the fact that she's been packed off to a health clinic, in the middle of nowhere, where mobile phones are banned and communication with the outside world is strictly by permission only.

The regimented and obtrusive nature of the clinic and its staff is torture to the deeply private, obstinate Stevie - and don't even get her started on the other 'inmates'. All she wants is to be left alone...

But as Stevie is about to find out, life is full of surprises. And she will prove herself stronger than she knows - even when her past finally catches her up in the most shocking and brutal way possible.

Rating:



The Hot Key Books team deliberately did not want to categorise Paperweight as an 'issues book' when they spoke about it at their fabulous blogger brunch, but truth be told that is very much what this novel is; and that's not a bad thing at all.

Paperweight explores the deeply complex relationship between Stevie, her dead brother Josh and Eden, the friend who is entangled in the mess that results in Stevie being forced by her father to sit out a 60-day stint in a treatment clinic to battle her eating disorder and suicidal tendencies.

While it is evident to Stevie from the moment that she gets there that she doesn't belong with the other girls, who are clearly not as determined as she is when it comes to controlling their food intake, the one thing that gets her through each agonising day of therapy and forced bonding session is that she knows, deep down, that she won't be in the clinic for the full 60 days her father signed her up for.

Because the anniversary of her Josh' death is coming up, and Stevie has her own twisted plan to honour him and finally receive the punishment she feels she deserves for being the one that killed her brother...

This book you guys, wow! It's one of those stories that going in you already know it will pull at your heartstrings, but you could have never predicted quite how much. Stevie was an incredibly confused and tortured protagonist and this didn't always make for comfortable reading; she could be selfish and messed up in her actions, which led to some horrifyingly shocking events within the novel.

Yet, despite her egocentric tendencies, the pain and guilt she felt over her brother's death and the complicated relationship with both Eden and her father, she was a very relatable character the reader can't help but sympathise with. Sure, she wasn't always (or actually quite rarely) right in her thoughts or actions, but her journey made sense from where she was coming from and there was undeniable character growth along the way.

While this was ultimately the story of Stevie, I also felt invested in the girls surrounding her at the treatment centre. I wish there had been more focus on some of them to really delve into the issues they were dealing with and how it was impacting them both physically and mentally, but I realise that would've detracted from the focus of the novel and perhaps even taken away some of the impact of one of the major events within the story, as it wouldn't have come quite as unexpected as it did seeing it solely from Stevie's self-centred point of view.

Paperweight is an incredibly well-written and engaging story, exploring a range of complicated issues that while not making for easy reading, need to be touched upon more within YA fiction – and for that I can not praise it highly enough. I only wish it hadn't had quite such an abrupt finish as it did as I, for one, was definitely craving a more drawn-out and thoughtful ending, befitting the rest of the novel.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: meghastonbooks.blogspot.com

Twitter: @meghaston


Many thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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