[Review] Paper Girl

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Title: Paper Girl

Author: Cindy R. Wilson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: December 4, 2018
Source: Copy provided by NetGalley
Content Warning: Anxiety, Panic attacks

Quicklinks: Amazon | Goodreads

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…
When it comes to books regarding anxiety or panic attacks, I read with caution. Some may ask, well why would you read something that could trigger you? I read things like this to see if I can find books that could help others who don't suffer from these things understand instead of romanticizing the mental illness. 

Zoe suffers from Agoraphobia, anxiety, and panic attacks, otherwise known as the paper girl. She doesn't leave the house and hasn't in about a year. Because of this, her family relationships are a bit strained. I loved Zoe and felt for her during her panic attacks, she was a nice, well-rounded character. Throughout her narration, she talks a lot about paper, calling herself a paper girl, hence the title. The thought of her love for paper on top of her issues was poetic, for sure!

Jackson, however, had me a bit dumbfounded. He would constantly make comparisons between Zoe and the girl he talks to online without actually connecting the dots until the story was ready to move forward with that. The entire time, I was wondering how a character who we are told is smart as hell, Valedictorian smart, can't put two and two together. It was just mind-boggling. 

As for the overall story, while it was beautiful, it was also extremely predictable and underwhelming. Happy endings are great and all, but it made it predictable. Is it too much to ask for a book like this to follow someone who doesn't necessarily make it there at the end, but is happy with their progress and is going to continue getting toward their end goal? Everyone got a happy ending, too. Maybe I'm a sucker for endings that are more bittersweet. I was going to give it a lower rating, but I'm adding an extra point because the book did make me cry a few times (that's a good thing). The book itself put me at borderline panic attack mode, but I did it and enjoyed the book. However, because of this, I've placed a content warning for those who suffer anxiety and panic attacks. 

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