Paper Girlby Cindy R. Wilson Published 4 12 2018
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I haven’t left my house in over a year. My doctor says it’s social anxiety, but I know the only things that are safe are made of paper. My room is paper. My world is paper. Everything outside is fire. All it would take is one spark for me to burst into flames. So I stay inside. Where nothing can touch me.
Then my mom hires a tutor. Jackson. This boy I had a crush on before the world became too terrifying to live in. Jackson’s life is the complete opposite of mine, and I can tell he’s got secrets of his own. But he makes me feel things. Makes me want to try again. Makes me want to be brave. I can almost taste the outside world. But so many things could go wrong, and all it takes is one spark for everything I love to disappear…
"Paper Girl" Reviews
"The real world was like paper, and one screw up, one spark, and the whole thing would go up in flames."
Paper Girl surprised me in a plethora of ways – all of which for the better. Having dived into this contemporary without many preconceived notions of how it’ll turn out, proved to be a wonderful occurrence! This is a beautiful story about love, discovery, and ultimately, confronting our fears and inner demons, regardless of the pain that may arise. I fell in love with Zoe and Jackson the moment they appeared in the first chapter and appreciate how well we’re able to immerse ourselves in their shoes through reading the dual perspectives. Wilson does a marvelous job constructing unique voices for her characters, and I admire how authentic the emotions radiating from them feel.
The social anxiety representation is handled in a lovely manner. Although I don’t suffer from this mental illness, myself, I believe the author’s portrayal of Zoe’s anxiety is depicted in a truly genuine manner – as expected from a novel with events based off Wilson’s own experiences. What I love most, is how simple it is to understand Zoe’s struggles and desire to shield herself from the outside world. These are very real fears and doubts that I’m sure many readers can relate with, even if it’s too a lesser degree.
Zoe’s family is present! I mention this quite often, but I’m a huge advocate for families having prevalent roles in YA literature. As a teenager, myself, I find it quite odd how infrequently nuclear families are incorporated in story lines. While I understand that difficulties can arise from parents interfering with the main characters of the story, I don’t believe cutting them from the plot entirely is the perfect solution. In Paper Girl, I absolutely loved the effects Zoe’s circumstances had on each member of her family. All they wish for her, is the best, and while they may not had been the most understanding at times, they reacted in highly realistic manners. Her sister, Mae’s frustration at not being able to connect with Zoe as they did before, her mother’s constant hope for recovery, and her father’s confusion over how to communicate with her, are all depicted well, and never feel overly dramatic or improbable.
Another strong suit of this story, is its inclusion of therapy in a positive perspective. Zoe’s therapist helps lead her down beneficial, albeit difficult, roads to recovery. I love the conversations between the two and admire how Zoe’s development and growth is reflected through these therapy sessions. The mutual trust and comfort Zoe and Jackson share with one another is also quite lovely. Despite how Zoe is the title character, we receive much development on Jackson’s part as well. The struggles he faces with having an alcoholic father is heartbreaking, and it’s even more painful seeing how he refuses to confide in others. He has no incentive of being on the receiving end of pity, so he avoids the topic of his unfortunate home life – or lack, thereof – at all costs. Witnessing him crawling out from his shell of fear and doubt, not unlike Zoe’s progression through her own, is wonderful to witness.
In conclusion, this is a stunning story that touches many important topics in our society, and produces a sweet romance that is neither forced, nor unrealistic. The struggles each of the characters face, whether it be combatting anxiety or confronting a previously negligent parent, feel remarkably raw and emotional, and I was all for it. I highly recommend this one for fans of Eliza and her Monsters and Dear Evan Hansen.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review!
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Rogue and BlackKnight have progressed from just playing online chess matches to chatting on a regular basis. They hide behind their usernames, sharing more about themselves than they'd willingly share to friends offline. At the same time, at just seventeen Zoe battles agoraphobia and a panic disorder, leaving her unable to leave her home and incapable of maintaining personal friendships. Her older sister's friend, Jackson, is the one she misses the most. He thinks of the quiet, smart girl often, wondering what has pulled her from school and away from his curious eyes. She presents a welcome distraction to his difficult days outside of school, spent wandering from location to location as he fights to survive on his own away from his addicted father. Tutoring and therapy bring the two together and they discover that the crushes they harbored are not unrequited. Together they work together to get Zoe outdoors, but Jackson continues to keep his secrets quiet, including the one that could change everything about their relationship.
Paper Girl isn't your typical young adult romance; Zoe hides behind the paper planets she obsessives over and Jackson attempts to call his homelessness anything but what it really is. And each relies on their internet personas for honest human connection.The story primarily focuses on the difficulties each teen is facing in their lives and the steps they both take to tackle them and to avoid them. The pacing is slow, but the story is definitely more about their personal development rather than the romance they find in one another. It's funny, sad, heartwarming, and complicated all at once. It's a complex story about the baby steps, the leaps, the setbacks, and the people you need rooting for you along the way.
Paper Girl is one of the most realistic novels I've read in a while. I could picture Zoe's paper projects, her nearly obsessive organization, and feel her terror seeping from the pages as she struggled to take even just a few steps out of her apartment's elevator. Her struggles with anxiety are very accurate and I really appreciated the time Cindy R. Wilson gives to Zoe and her therapist and the dialogue they share. There's a lot of growth in the novel and there's space for Zoe to challenge herself, to set goals and to make them happen. It isn't a novel about fixing the illness, but rather about facing it and fighting for a life that is filled with experiences. Jackson, on the other hand, deals with a situation that I do not personally relate with, but understand is becoming more common than we'd like. At such a young age he must care for himself, left mourning alone as his father chases his demons. He's very mature, but at the same time his family life has shaped him and he doesn't even realize he must tackle those feelings until he walks alongside Zoe as she faces her own.
Is it too much to say I think this is a book that should be required reading for every teenager? Cindy R. Wilson tackles topics that are difficult to discuss and often portrayed incorrectly in media. I do think it could be triggering, but at the same time I think that many youth are unaware of the prevalence of mental health issues and the way it shows itself in individuals. Just as Paper Girl touches on, those who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders are afraid of the judgement, they build it up so much in their mind that they never believe another could be there for them. Paper Girl made me cry, but it also made me feel hope. The story is sweet, funny, and features two characters with so much passion for life that their setbacks can't hold them down. I highly recommend Paper Girl and am so glad I had the opportunity to read it.
Zoe is an adolescent with agoraphobia and social anxiety who loves chess and constructing amazing things with paper. She uses an on-line chess app where she plays under another name, and there she meets a guy who also loves chess and talking to her, and in their on-line world they can trust each other without judging, and bit by bit they open up to each other.
This guy she plays chess with turns out to be Jackson, a guy from school who also is gonna began tutoring her and who used to care for her, and still does.
We have these two main characters, Zoe and Jackson, with their lives and their problems. They are more or less rounded, but I didn't end caring particularly for either of them. The only character that called my attention was Mae, Zoe's sister, as she appeared to be full of potential. Another one that did show some promise was the psychologist. Outside of this trio plus the psychologist, the other characters fell somewhat flat and where only there because the story needed parents and friends for the main characters.
The story began strong enough, but I got the feeling it lost momentum, and while the goals and marks Zoe sets for herself (or has asked of herself by her therapist) seems like reasonable and a way to keep moving the story forward, and so do the plot of Jackson homelessness and his dad's story, I didn't end up caring for them...
I flew through this book so quickly. It was such a great read and exactly the kind of book I was needing right now. I needed something light and entertaining with some good feels, and that's exactly what I got. I loved the characters and their struggles that were so realistic and relatable. I loved their dynamic and how everything unfolded. Such a great read, and perfect for if you're in a reading slump and need something to get out of it!
The beginning reminded of the book Everything Everything but a not so good version of it. I don’t know if it was because it’s young adult (which I like to dabble in from time to time) or what, but this was like a waste of a read to me.
Zoe is a teenaged girl who has been in doors for a year with the fear of going outdoors and being social with others. She has agoraphobia and to me, it first started from being in commercials for her dads car company. I also think her mother plays a part in sheltering her. When I heard paper girl I thought something totally different but in reality, she finds some sort of peace and security with building things out of paper.
Jackson is a senior in high school who lost his mother and even though his father is alive, drugs and alcohol has consumed him. Jackson is currently homeless and keeping it a secret so that no harm he can happen. His goal is college and is willing to do anything to make it happen. In the mist of that, he likes Zoe and is trying to get to know all parts of her.
Their connection seems unrealistic or comical to me but overall, the book was not for me. The message I did enjoy from it is courage. Having to get uncomfortable to in order to find out who you truly are and what you are capable of.
DNFed at 57%
While I do believe that this book is beautifully written and the premise interesting I have found myself at a bit of a crossroads. I really want to know how this book ends, but I'm also suffering from panic attacks as the main character, and I face a portion of the same judgment and pressure she does in the book, which has in turn proven itself to be a trigger for me. Ever since I did my last update yesterday, it's been one panic attack after another. I've been starting to notice the tiniest of judgment around me and panicking even more. It's been a little disheartening since I was at one of my longest streaks - two months without panic attacks.
I think it's best that I DNF it, take a few days off to ride out this wave of negative emotion and get back to normal.