by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
To be published by Knopf BFYR/Random House
on August 28, 2012
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.
This book has dark moments and some mature themes and I'd recommend it to older teens and up.
This review is part of a blog tour for The Stone Girl. Find out about all the tour stops at the end of the post!
My summary: Sethie seems to have everything -- enviable grades, a boyfriend, and a bright future. But Sethie is also trapped in a prison of her own making. She chronicles and criticizes every bite that she eats, analyzes every word and gesture that her boyfriend makes, scrutinizes every detail of her body. She's literally shrinking-- into herself, into her own obsessive, lonely world.
My take: I requested this book from NetGalley because I had read and loved Alyssa Sheinmel's two prior YA books, The Beautiful Between and The Lucky Kind. I wasn't aware that The Stone Girl was about a girl with an eating disorder. I'm not sure if there is any way to state my feelings about this book without mentioning how well I understand Sethie's struggles. In high school, I decided that everything I didn't like about my life could be fixed if only I were thinner. Of course, that wasn't the case at all.
I've read other YA fiction that deals with eating disorders. Some of those books vividly brought back the heady sense of power that came with being able to control one part of my life so completely. The Stone Girl is a story that shows a different aspect of what it feels like to be completely obsessed with food. Sethie tries to be constantly vigilant about everything she eats, everything she does, everything she says. The effort of it nearly exhausts her. Her view of the world is contracting; her self-consciousness morphs into self-absorption.
The Stone Girl is written in a pared-down, unsentimental style, with characters that struck me as nuanced and true to life. Shaw, Sethie's boyfriend, is too immature to give her the kind of intense emotional support she needs. Sethie's mother is a busy single mother who feels helpless in the face of her daughter's suffering. Jane, Sethie's friend, starts out seeming like a rich girl frenemy, then reveals a completely different side of herself. Ben, a friend of Janey's boyfriend, is six foot seven and completely unapologetic about his size, which fascinates Sethie. As a college student, he also gives Sethie a glimpse into what the wider world could hold for her. I was so relieved to see this glimmer of hope appear for Sethie. But Sethie's story doesn't gloss over the fact that change is difficult.
I'd argue that all Alyssa Sheinmel's books have fairy tale themes and elements, and The Stone Girl is no exception. Like traditional fairy tales, The Stone Girl acknowledges the dark side of an obsession with beauty and perfection. The Stone Girl is a story of transformation and self-discovery.
I'm hosting Alyssa Sheinmel here on Monday August 20, where I'll be asking her questions about fairy tales, Ernest Hemingway, and author siblings. I hope you can join us!
In the meantime, Please check out the other stops on the tour! The first stop is Alyssa's website, where you can find out more about her books.
8/2—Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf Interview & review
8/3—Literary Rambles Guest post & giveaway
8/6—YA Romantics Review
8/7—The Book Addict’s Guide Interview
8/8—Book Club Chic Review
8/9—A Tale of Two Bookies Guest post
8/12—The Teen Book Guru Interview
8/13—The Teen Book Guru Review
8/14—Itching for Books Guest post
8/15—Random Acts of Reading Guest post
8/16—The Children’s Book Review Guest post & giveaway
8/17—Isabel Bandeira Mini-interview & guest post
8/20—YA Romantics Interview
8/21—Taking It One Book at a Time Interview
8/22—Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers Review & giveaway
8/23—Confessions of a Bookaholic Guest post & giveaway
8/24—The Compulsive Reader Guest post & giveaway
8/27—Almost Grown Up Interview
8/27—A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy Interview
8/28— A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy Review
8/29—Letter Blocks Interview
9/1—Distraction No. 99 Guest post
9/2—Literary Escapism Guest post (for School’s In)
9/3—Dear Teen Me Guest post
Fantastic review! I love when a book hits close to home like that. :) This sounds like such a moving story, too! This sounds really great, I'll have to check it out :)ReplyDelete
I hope you do!Delete
For whatever reason I find myself drawn to books focusing on eating disorders and this one sounds really different from other ones I've read. I'm definitely going to be checking this one out-thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
It is different -- and you should definitely check out her other books, because you love fairy tale themed books!Delete
I haven't heard of this book before, but it sounds really good. Thank you for the great review Jen!ReplyDelete
Thanks -- hope you give it a try!Delete
Great review :-) This is the first I've heard of this book, but it does sound like a really good read.ReplyDelete
It has its dark moments, but I really liked it!Delete
I got this one from NetGalley, too, and I'm very excited to read it. I've read a few books on eating disorders, the most recent one being Wintergirls ... your review makes me want to bump this one up in my list!!ReplyDelete
Wintergirls is a great book too -- a completely different kind of story. I'll keep an eye out for your review.Delete
I'm looking forward to your interview on the 20th. It's always a weird experience when a story ends up being way more personal than you expected.ReplyDelete
It is and I debated a lot about whether to mention that.Delete
Looking forward to the interview too!
Just finished this one too, and like you it hit home with me. I struggled with eds in high school, and to this day have skewed body image.ReplyDelete
An aside--I really liked Ben.
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog
I look forward to your review!Delete
Thanks for sharing your experience -- I was about to write that I thought I was over my body issues then I realized that I hate to be photographed. So maybe I am kidding myself!
And I loved Ben too. What a great character!!
It sounds like this book really spoke to you, Jen. And hey, I think it's pretty cool that you put yourself out there in this review, based on what you said it sounds like this book is authentic in it's portrayal of eating disorders. I look forward to your interview with the author:)ReplyDelete
Well, I did want to make that point. Everyone's experience is unique and my story is different than Sethie's, but her story did feel true to life!Delete
Lovely review. (And I'm especially curious to see what Alyssa says about author siblings...)ReplyDelete
Maybe she'll tell you if you ask her!Delete
Courtney is the sibling in question, in case anyone was wondering.Delete
But my lips are sealed until August 20th!
I haven't read a book dealing with an eating disorder and I also do see how this can relateto a fairy tale. Trying to be perfect and obsessed with beauty. I didn't pay much attention to The Stone Girl so thank you for this great review. You are really good at opening my eyes to books that I might not notice before.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad! You should definitely check out Alyssa Sheinmel's other books too.Delete
Wow, this sounds amazing! Is it weird that reading about eating disorders just makes me hungry? I am glad to see books addressing this issue because there are so many teens and adults starving themselves to be perfect, popular, or to simply be in control in one area of their lives. There are simply too many pro-ana and pro-mia supporters out there and not enough material that shows the dark side to this affliction. I'll definitely check this one out!ReplyDelete
Great -- I hope you like it!Delete
THE STONE GIRL is everywhere today. Thank you for your review.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Marybelle. I hope you're feeling better!Delete
Great review. Thanks for sharing! I had kind of the opposite issue as a teen, being too skinny because of my genes, so I could eat whatever I wanted and it never phased me. I also had no curves, so I was ridiculed for that a lot. Isn't it ironic that regardless of your shape you pretty much can't be comfortable in those teen years? Now it's a problem because after four kids and my metabolism dying I have to be careful what I eat and it's hard to change a long-running habit (ice cream, chocolate, and baked goods are really a sin sometimes). :)ReplyDelete
I've read one book that deals with an eating disorder (There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones) and at first I really didn't see it coming. It was interesting how the MC didn't realize there was a problem, it was so gradual a process at first, and then she was in denial. I think that is how it is for a lot of girls where their lives are stressful or chaotic and sometimes they choose to not eat, but a lot of times they don't even see what they're doing. I'm hoping it won't ever be something I have to worry about with my daughters and that we'll be close enough that we can deal with stress and problems in a healthy way.
I agree! Almost every teenager feels self-conscious about some aspect of their appearance. But I didn't realize that until much later on. And some of the things I wished I could change I have come to appreciate now!Delete