Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

The Stone Girl 
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Available: Amazon (pre-order)

She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn’t hurt, because she’s not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.

I rarely (never) read stories focusing on eating disorders or self-harm, so I surprised myself when I decided to read The Stone Girl. These types of stories rarely interest me since I can't understand the desire to hurt or to starve one's self. Although, considering the amazing cover I can now see why I fell into the trap.

The Stone Girl ended up being just an average read for me. There was nothing that I absolutely loved, nor anything I absolutely hated. The writing style is very telling and with being in the third person I felt very removed from Sethie's character. Maybe if it had been in first person I would have felt more of her pain, instead I was just told. 

It's pretty obvious from the start that Sethie has low self-esteem, and this quickly develops into anorexia, bulimia, and self-mutilation. As part of her low self-esteem, she has zero self-respect. Her "boyfriend" Shaw only wants to be with her for sex, and although she realizes this, she continues to tell herself that if only she were thinner and less clingy he will eventually come around. Sethie clings to the idea of Shaw like a lifeline, despite him being a complete prick. I had no clue why she loved him, other than him giving her some type of validation as to her lack of self-worth. Being with him includes drinking and drugs and of course sex. By the end of the book it's pretty obvious that Sethie is seriously messed up, beyond an eating disorder.

So many times while reading I just shook my head and thought 'how pathetic (interchangable with: stupid, lame, idiotic, sad, desperate) can she be?'. I understand depression skews the way a person views the world, themselves, and the precepetion they have of themselves in relation to the world, but it all felt like the author was missing some point. There was no growth on Sethie's part. Just when it seemed like she was going to have a breakthrough, she leaps backwards even further away from sane than before due to the actions of someone else.

At the end it just felt like she was giving in to the pressure from yet another person. I've read a few other reviews saying it was like an instruction manual on eating disorders, and while I don't completely agree, I can definitely see their point. Sethie doesn't really have any moments where she realizes what is happening is due to bigger things than food, she never really questions what she is doing. Instead, we hear about what she does to reach her 'goal' and why. There were things she did that had me going "I wonder if that really works?" before I stopped and had to tell myself I am not that desperate. 

I have to say that my recommendation for this book is on a very limited scope: mature, older YA reads, who have never suffered from depression, or any of the other disorders Sethie suffers from.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I'm reading this book soon and I have to say that the lack of character growth might disturb me. I guess I'll have to see how it hits me.

    Kate @ Ex Libris