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 mealtime, 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.
In this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut, Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?
This book was an incredibly raw, unflinching look at a girl with an eating disorder – indeed, it was very difficult to read at times, in terms of the sheer brutality, the clinical detachment of our narrator. There are no euphemistic niceties here, and I would say that people who have experienced an ED should consider this a trigger warning.
This is small talk in this bizarre little universe. Girls prattle endlessly about how their hair is falling out, their skin is dry, they can’t take a shit. They complain, but deep down, they wear these things like badges of honour.
However, the book is also exquisite in its fearlessness, and examination of a downward spiral that can lead to the kind of situation where someone controls their food intake to the point of near death. It’s a heartbreaking investigation of how we can blame ourselves for the actions that harm others, whether caused by ourselves or completely accidental.
Every person should be able to choose her own particular brand of suffering. It’s a fundamental human right. Death. Liberty. The pursuit of unhappiness.
Paperweight also makes the important point that there are many reasons why someone might develop an eating disorder –and sometimes these reasons are not always clear. This is particularly illustrated by the stories of the different girls in the recovery clinic. Sometimes one could have a perfect life with no trauma and still fall victim to this disease. I think this is something that needs to be emphasized more – whether depression or bulimia – just because you don’t have a specific reason for being that way, doesn’t make your suffering any less legitimate.
A 5 star rating because this book made me feel, had me crying in sympathy with the MC’s self-hatred, had me recoiling back in horror at certain descriptive passages. Haunting, unrelenting, and ultimately redemptive.
I think that maybe for some people, family is just the people you’re standing next to when awful things happen.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.