Book Review: Paper Weight – Meg Haston

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Twenty-seven days to freedom… I am caged 

Stevie wants to disappear and in twenty-seven days that’s exactly what she’s going to do, whether they like it or not. Sent to a treatment centre for eating disorders Stevie knows they’ve got it all wrong, she doesn’t need to be here, she doesn’t want to he and she’s going to get out of here one way or another. Abandoned by her best friend, her mother and not coping with the death of her brother, Stevie has no alternatives she’s going to get back to her brother.

Haston’s novel is quite simply, brilliant. Seeing the world through the eyes of seventeen year old Stevie is heart breaking. I’m going to be honest and say that the novel is challenging to read, it deals with a lot of issues, grief, anger and living with an eating disorder. The anger that Stevie radiates is made easy to understand under the circumstances but all I wanted through the whole novel was to reach through the pages and comfort her. There are important lessons to be learnt while reading Paperweight. 

The story in no way glamourises eating disorders, it shows the reasons and the misery that they can bring and celebrates the girls around Stevie who are moving forward, even though she resents them. Haston has also made the girls normal and explores the different reasons why eating disorders develop, it has obviously been well researched. Like any novel of this nature it can be hard for people to read who have gone through eating disorders or problems with food.

One of my favourite parts of the novel is the relationship between Stevie and her therapist, whom she calls Shrink. The therapist felt like a real person and I felt she was an honest character and represented what a good therapist should be, even if Stevie isn’t keen on opening up. Stevie’s relationships with others throughout the novel are also a real eye opener and although I’ve not had an eating disorder, as someone who has had depression I found her reactions to be realistic.

The only negative that I have to say about the novel is that in the beginning I found it hard to keep track of who’s who as a lot of characters are introduced quite quickly. That said I think the novel is a good length and doesn’t dwell too much, it moves at a good pace but allows enough time for the reader to appreciate Stevie’s thoughts and feelings.

I’m giving this novel 4 stars ****, a great new YA read. The character of Stevie is a little unapproachable at first but this story really picks up and teaches you about the range of people and emotions that are related to eating disorders.

Review by Chloe Metzger

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

8eaedae3c0c1099c92bc6cf82b8ed737I found the above quote on Pinterest and thought it would be a good start to todays post. Today is the last day of Eating Disorders awareness week and of course I wanted to feature it on my blog. I’ve never had an eating disorder, although for a while I had an issue with my body image. That said I have watched friends struggle through eating disorders and it’s a very slippery slope.

A lot of people have the misconception that ED’s are about food and being vain and feeling fat. Wrong. Bulimia and Anorexia, for example, are mental illnesses, they’re not to do with not fitting into a certain dress or wanting to look like a celebrity. They are illnesses which unfortunately people can die from. It’s important to know but not what I want to put forward in this blog.

I want to talk to you all about being supportive. The best thing you can do for someone with any kind of mental health condition is to support them, to do your best to understand. Some of the following things are good to know

Be patient 

Eating Disorders don’t just go away in a week, they are not a cold. Recovery can take years and for some people they need a little bit of support for the rest of their lives. It can be frustrating and so hard to watch when a loved one goes through this but your patience can mean everything.

Listen 

Don’t talk, listen. Listen to what they want and need to say. Even if they are scared and you can’t understand why. Even if what they’re saying is hard to hear just listen and ,when you can, respect their wishes.

Know when they just need you there 

Sometimes it’s not about having a big conversation, it’s just about having someone there and knowing they’re there.

Try and do some research 

You don’t need to get a PhD in Psychology but just doing a little research on ways to help for example or knowing what the illness is. Some people find it helpful to learn with the person who is living with the illness.  It can make things easier to understand.

Work with them through things 

Having support through it all is one of the most important things. Celebrate their achievements and be there if they have bad days and work through it together. You never know how much it can mean to someone.

I wanted to make it clear that this is something that people recover from! It takes hard work but it is possible to recover with the right help and be happy and healthy, as with any mental illness. If anyone is struggling with an Eating Disorder at the moment then I will leave details at the end of this post. Don’t be embarrassed, or ashamed, you can get through this. Talk to someone you feel you can, go along to a doctors appointment (you don’t have to see your own GP!) and please, please don’t give up.

Beat – UK 

http://www.b-eat.co.uk/

National Eating Disorder Association

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

SEED – Eating Disorder Support Service

http://www.seedeatingdisorders.org.uk/