Tuesday, December 4, 2018

REVIEW: Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson - 4.5/5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 1 comments
Title: Paper Girl
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary - Mental Health, Family Issues
Author: Cindy R. Wilson
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication: December 4th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading Format: Provided Paperback

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson is the beautiful and painful story of Zoe, a girl who can't leave her apartment, loves making art from folded paper and is excellent at chess and Jackson, a boy who has lost his mother, ran away from his addict father and is trying his hardest to beat someone at online chess.

Zoe was a very fun character to get to know. She had panic attacks and from that she became agoraphobic. She was afraid to leave her house and she was afraid of social situations. She liked to say she was afraid of everything but after getting to know her, that appeared to not be the case. She could speak her mind fairly freely and once she started seeing a new therapist, she came out of her shell rather fast. 

Then we have Jackson. This story is told in back and forth points of view between the two main characters so we get as to know as much about Jackson's life as we do with Zoe. Jackson is about to graduate high school, top of his class, but he has a secret. After his mom died, his dad fell off the wagon and Jackson decided the best thing for him to do was to not be home with his dad. So he took to sleeping in his car, taking odd tutoring jobs to save up for college and practically living in the library. 

Tutoring is what brings out characters together. Zoe isn't doing so well in Math and Physics for her homeschooling classes so her mother hires Jackson, who also happens to be Zoe's sister's friend. Zoe knew him before she had her breakdown and she might have had a little crush on him. 

Mae, Zoe's sister pissed me off a lot in this book BUT she was real. When someone you love is hurting or has some kind of illness you can't cure, you tend to feel VERY useless and sometimes that useless feeling results in you lashing out and hurting the person who made you feel useless. I know this too well from personal experience. So, while I might have been pissed at Mae, the author wrote her character to be very realistic and that got her bonus points in my eyes.

With the help of Gina, Zoe's new therapist, Jackson and herself, Zoe takes steps to better herself. Her main goal is to go to her sister's graduation, which also happens to be Jackson's graduation, but she has a lot of little things to conquer along the way. She has a bunch of ups and a ton of downs and she pushes people away because she feels like she can't really conquer anything if she is being helped, but at the end of the day, she makes progress and keeps trying. She never gives up and that is beautiful.

And Jackson's story has a similar ending. Zoe helps him to face some things he was trying to avoid and by the end of the book he was glad he did. Jackson was a very forgiving character which had both good and bad points. 

I do think the pacing of Zoe getting better was a little fast. She hadn't left her home for a year but within a matter of weeks, she was doing better. I think if I had to have one problem with this book, that would be it. 

In the end, the heart of this book lies with 3 things. Mental illness, family issues, and chess. If I had to sum the book up those would be the three things I would choose. This story was sad but happy at the same time. As someone who lost almost 10 years of her life due to panic attacks, this book hit home but at the same time, it didn't. This book was very romanticized but still, underneath that, there were real problems being dealt with and I think that is more realistic than just breaking down the points of having a mental illness and making that into a story. People with mental illnesses live life every damn day and we are so much more than our illnesses.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

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