Title: The Stone Girl
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: Available
Sometimes, I pick up a book and start reading it. I think that it’s okay, but not great. Despite that, I won’t be able to stop reading it, and by the time I finish, I’ll realize I actually really liked it. A few days will pass, or maybe a week, and I won’t be able to get the book out of my head. That’s when I realize how much I truly enjoyed it, and how special and rare books such as these are. For me, The Stone Girl was one of these books. When I first started it, I was prepared for the typical high-school-girl-with-an-eating-disorder story. And for the first few chapters, that’s all I thought The Stone Girl was. Soon, I realized how wrong my initial impression was.
The Stone Girl is the story of high school senior Sethie Weiss. From the start of the book, the reader can tell that Sethie is conscious of how everyone else perceives her, and she’s determined to retain the status she has created for herself in her head. She is also determined to monopolize the affections of Shaw, her almost-boyfriend, as well as to keep her weight under the 111 pound limit she has set for herself. Sethie meets Janey, and although instantly jealous of Janey’s thin physique and confident attitude, the two become good friends. As the book progresses, Sethie’s weight becomes her prime concern. She begins to eat less and less, and when she eats too much, she throws up afterward. The reader sees Sethie’s relationships with Shaw, Janey, and her mother deteriorate as she becomes more obsessed with her body.
From the beginning, I was rooting for Sethie; she’s a relatable character and I think most teens (especially girls) have experienced the lack of self-confidence and insecurities about their bodies that Sethie does. Author Alyssa B. Sheinmel does a remarkable job of tying Sethie’s eating disorder to her lack of confidence and impressing upon the feelings that draw Sethie to feel the need to stay thin. Personally, when I read a book that focuses on a character with an eating disorder, I often feel detached from her, almost as if that could never be me, because I wouldn’t want to let myself become that person. The Stone Girl was different; it opened my eyes to eating disorders and made me understand so much more why someone would feel as if she had to stay thin to feel accepted and confident.
Although The Stone Girl deals with tough issues, and Sethie doesn’t always make the right choices, the book makes it clear to the reader what the right choices are, without conspicuously plastering morals on its pages. When you watch Sethie starve herself and then throw up, constantly getting thinner and more unhealthy, you’re willing her to realize she is beautiful the way she is; when you see her torn between Shaw, who couldn’t care less about his life and about Sethie’s, and Ben, the sweet, smart, and caring college student she meets at a party, you’re begging her to pick Ben.
I thought this book was wonderful, and ever since I finished it, it’s been popping up in my mind, begging me to revisit it. I’m not sure if this book would appeal to many boys, but for a female young adult (or older adult) reader, I think it’s an honest, painful, and beautiful story about an intelligent girl who gets lost in the idea that your body’s appearance defines your life. I highly recommend The Stone Girl – it’s not a particularly long or difficult read, but it is thought-provoking and enlightening. I encourage you to give it a try.
Review by Katie
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