December 4, 2018

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson | Blog Tour and Review

Paper Girl
By Cindy R. Wilson
400 Pages
Published December 4th, 2018
Young Adult, Contemporary
Trigger Warnings: Child Abuse, Panic Attacks, Drugs, and Alcoholism

This book was provided to me from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

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...


YA contemporaries that mix mental health issues and romance can be tricky. There is a chance that the romance can overwhelm the actual representation of mental health and warp the most interesting part of the novel into a mere subplot in comparison to the romance. 

I would like to give the caveat that I do not have firsthand experience with mental health, so take my opinions with a grain of salt and please also seek out own voices reviewers.

However, Paper Girl has the prefect mix of exploring Zoe's life and her journey with agoraphobia, including anxiety, therapy sessions, exposure therapy, progression, and regression. This isn't a simple story where a boy shows up and magically cures Zoe's anxiety. Jackson is important to Zoe, but doesn't become her crutch. In the end, Zoe makes her own life better, which is a strong theme that is not seen in YA as often as it should. 

Speaking of Zoe, I loved her characterization. Yes, her agoraphobia is important, but it isn't the most important thing about her. She is quirky because of her personality, not because of her mental health. Her love of chess, obsession with paper art, and pendant for comic books are used to characterize her as "quirky" or "different" instead of her agoraphobia. 

Zoe is also a great character since we get to see both the highs and the lows with her therapy. There is no magical cure for mental health and her journey shows the complicated process of progression and regression in therapy. 

Even though Jackson is not Zoe's "savior" I do appreciate his relationship with Zoe. They have an incredible "meet cute" story that is pure, innocent, and too gosh darn adorable. Their relationship is built off of a love of chess and mutual nerdiness that warms my heart. Most importantly, I loved the give and take in their relationship. There was a respect in their relationship that make it even more awe-worthy.

The romance isn't the only relationship that I loved as both Zoe's and Jackson's families were given a lot of page time. Both families are completely different, yet they also both struggle and love. Both the good and the bad were shown in both families, which is a dynamic that is not traditionally seen in YA.

Jackson has his own struggles, but since the synopsis doesn't specify them, I am going to leave you to discover them. All I will say is that I believe they were handled well, if a little bit unrealistically.

My only complaint would be that the plot was a little bit weak, more so a diary of their lives instead of an action-driven narrative. There were some end goals in sight, but on the whole, especially with Jackson's narrative, the story just seemed to be rambling on to the future. 

Ultimately, Paper Girl is a great exploration of living with agoraphobia that doesn't fall into the popular trap that romance fixes everything. If you love chess, origami, or just good mental health representation (which I hope is all of you), I recommend Paper Girl.

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.


Enter for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card and a Paper Girl themed journal
(US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for organizing the tour!
What are some of your favorite YA books with good mental health representation? Have you ever read a book with an agoraphobic main character? Are you a chess master? (I definitely am not, but I am trying to learn). What about an origami creator?

No comments:

Post a Comment