by Cindy R. Wilson
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release date: December 4th 2018
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…
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“Paper Girl” is for me one of those books that stick. I loved it so much that I am even afraid to review it, as my words are too little to express the value that, again, at least for me, it contains. There are mixed opinions out there and in the following lines, I will do my best to justify my rating and my feelings.
First page got me hooked. An online discussion between BlackKnight and Rogue2015, on a chess board, is my firs delight. From here onwards, I looked forward for their discussions and their banter over who is better and not only that. The comfortable feeling they both have with one another is heartwarming.
Second page has the following quote:
When there were two kids in a family and one kid couldn’t leave the house without her chest clamping tight in panic like a bear trap, then you really had 1.5 kids because .5 of one kid was defective.
Zoe has agoraphobia, anxiety, panic attacks and a lot of pressure to overcome her situation. Her family has offered her all the help a family can offer, including professional help. Jackson has family issues that keep him away from home, leaving out of his car, tutoring for money, hoping to gather enough to pay for college. Two main characters with issues and an author that treats both of them with so much respect, it’s overwhelming.
While the relationship between the two is intense and interesting to say the least, what made me love the book even more, was how Cindy R. Wilson detailed every step Zoe has to take in order to overcome her fears. Starting with the many specialists that have seen her until the “good” one comes around (underlining the fact that a doctor may be well trained, but it’s the comfort the patient has towards the person that matters) and following her goals, accustoming herself again with others, first in her safe zone and then slowly moving forward.
There are a lot of metaphors hidden in the book as well. Even the online discussions lead to metaphors of real life. But the most important of them is the universe Zoe creates out of paper. Her own world, created after her own preference.
BlackKnight: Kind of the same thing, right? Chess and real life. It’s all strategy.
I have spoken so much about Zoe and so little about Jackson, mainly because I see her as the masterpiece of this book. But he is not at all less important. He is a teenager forced to think like a grownup. However, it’s visible the author paid more attention to Zoe and her struggles, than with Jackson.
There are so many things to discuss here and probably a new article will follow, with spoilers for sure, where I will go deeper into this book. The objective reviewer in me has to admit that a stronger reason behind Zoe’s condition would have worked better for the story and also there are some items in regards to the secondary characters that are not well done. Because of that, I feel compelled to give 4 out of 5 stars, but this book will remain close to my heart for a lot of time now. I don’t know how to say THANK YOU in the proper way, so I’m doing it with capital letters. Cindy R. Wilson is amazing!
Note: I would not recommend the book to those of you having anxiety issues or more severe conditions of the sort as it may trigger unwanted emotions. However, for those brave enough, you will see how tiny steps can mean so much in overcoming a difficult emotional state.
About the Author
Cindy lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and loves using Colorado towns and cities as inspiration for settings in her stories. She’s the mother of three girls, who provide plenty of fodder for her YA novels. Cindy writes speculative fiction and YA fiction, filled with a healthy dose of romance. You’ll often find her hiking or listening to any number of playlists while she comes up with her next story idea.
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