Sunday, July 24, 2011

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky Review

And Then Things Fall ApartAnd Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

My take: Keek is short for Karina and she's just a 15 year old book geek who is cut off from civilization and sanity as she convelesces in her grandmother's attic. She has the chicken pox which is much worse when you are a teenager. Her only company is a copy of Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar and an old typewriter. She isn't speaking to her adulterating father, her mother is choosing to be in California helping her own sister with a premature baby instead of caring for Keek, she and her boyfriend had a big fight, her best friend is the adulterating partner, and her high school best friend is estranged. So Keek writes on the typewriter.

The diary entries or whatever they would be called are a cross between self-centered and highly intellectual. The way the author fleshes out Keek develops her character very well. As a 15 year old teenager, she is self-centered. As a book geek, she puts many of us to shame. Unfortunately, that part was a little alienating since I haven't read Sylvia Plath. At the same time, Keek gives enough background information that Plath's work is reframed in Keek's mind and understandable.

Keek is obsessed with losing her virginity. She details the physical and sexual activities that she and Matt have managed to act out before she freaks out and has to leave. It is explicit enough that I would not hand the book to my teenage daughters with a recommendation. On the other hand, it is not fraught with unnecessary language (although swearing is present and I counted at least 3 or 4 'f' bombs) I wouldn't have a problem seeing it in a high school library.

The book is slow moving since Keek is nearly living in a vacuum. On the other hand, the limited contact she has with the people closest to her has definition and provides insight into her circumstances. Keek evolves while staying true to her character. Her opinions change quickly as she goes from loving Matt and everything about him to hating him passionately. Keek ultimately discovers how both parents contributed to their impending divorce and I liked how Keek understood her need to retain a relationship with both of her parents regardless of their faults.


*Don't read the next paragraph if you don't want to read this*

I personally wanted to bitty slap her mother. Being a middle aged mother myself and watching the attention go from pretty me to my pretty 16 year old daughter and realizing I'm older and not the pretty one, I understand the feelings of moving to a different life stage. I've watched it with my friends. I've fought it myself. Ultimately, mothers' jobs are to accept they had their day of beauty and now we get to cultivate our daughters.

*End of Spoiler*

Language - moderate.
Sex - heavy talk
Swearing - moderate to strong

Recommend? Maybe to a certain population of students.

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