25 September 2013

Review: The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Published: 28 August 2012

Pages: 224 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Own library


She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn’t hurt, because she’s not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.

My Thoughts

When I saw The Stone Girl on the sale shelf in a bookshop, I immediately grabbed it.  Although Young Adult contemporary books don't tend to be to my taste, but when it's an issue book, it's a whole different thing.  These are the books that stick in my mind long after I've finished reading, whether it's the emotions, the plot or the characters.

The very first thing that struck me about The Stone Girl was the style of the third-person narration.  I usually prefer third-person narration, but the repeated use of names completely threw me off at first.  Rather than 'he' or 'she', it was 'Sethie this' and 'Sethie that' to the stage that I considered stopping reading because it just STOOD OUT SO MUCH.

After a while I got used to the style and by the end it was probably only that I'd made a note about it early on that prompted me to mention it.

However, The Stone Girl also suffers from 'absent parent syndrome'.  Sethie's mother is seemingly completely oblivious to the fact that her daughter is losing a drastic amount of weight and that her behavious is also spiralling out of control, and although there's an attempt at justification towards the end, it didn't feel realistic.  There are also numerous interactions between Sethie and staff at her school, such as the nurse where she has apparently spent a lot of time, but there is no mention of the nurse trying to raise the alarm.

The characters are average, Sethie didn't really stand out for me, and although I've read a couple of books since, I'm really having trouble thinking of reasons why she would stand out.

This may just be one of those issues books that particularly resonates with readers who have had similar issues as Sethie and just didn't click with me.  It wasn't a bad book by any means, but it just didn't sit right with me.

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