This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Entangled Teen
Released on December 4, 2018
A debut author and some deep topics like a high school girl with an anxiety disorder and a high school guy hiding that he is homeless made this new YA Contemporary become a book I was curious to read.
Paper Girl begins with two on-line chess partners who know nothing about each other, but meet up to play chess. Black Knight wishes to become friendly and chat, but Rogue remains aloof as she kicks his butt in chess.
In real life, Zoe doesn’t leave her family’s high rise apartment because she has agoraphobia and panic attacks about the world outside the apartment. She uses colored paper to design her study room walls like the solar system, homeschools, and her therapist comes to her. All that changes when she meets her new math tutor and he’s the guy she crushed on before her year hidden away began.
Jackson’s life is one big lie. He lies to everyone at school who think his life is great with sports, top of his classes, and friendly, nice-looking guy. When in reality, his dad started doing hard drugs after his mom died and home became a nightmare. He lives out of his car and pretends so he doesn’t end up in the foster system. He’s nearly eighteen and is college-bound. He picks up several jobs to make ends meet and save what he can for the future. Then he gets a really good job to tutor and meets Zoe, who is more trapped in her lonely life than he is in his.
This is a story that doesn’t try to dazzle or set the world on fire. It introduces two teens with their own private battles going on. They grow close and are friends. They help each other grow stronger and start dreaming again. It’s baby steps as it should be for what Zoey has going on in particular. Not much beyond these two is fleshed out for some time, but I thought that was another way of showing how isolated they have become. But, Zoey’s sister is there and urging her on. I rather found Zoey’s mom an enabler more than anything else. I was glad that Jackson and Zoey both had to face their personal demons and it happened in a way that was not easy, but ended up in a believable, rewarding way.
YA Warnings: no violence or sex, but moderate on language. Suggest for mid to older teen crowd.
Paper Girl will be a story that I’m glad I read and I cheered on this pair to win over their troubles. I’m always glad to see mental health issues, grief, and addictions addressed in a healthy, positive way. It didn’t grab me strongly and I did get inattentive a few times so I would set it down. But, ultimately, I was happy to come back to it and keep going with Zoey and Jackson’s story. I think those who enjoy a slow-burn character-driven YA with a friends to lovers style sweet romance will be the target group.
My thanks to Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.