And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky
Review updated by Noelle: April 27, 2012
Published July 26, 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Reviewers note: Thanks to a sinus infection and bridesmaid duties my reading and reviewing time has been seriously neglected this week. In the meantime, I expanded my Goodreads review for one of my favorite books from 2011: And Then Things Fall Apart. This post is figuratively sponsored by confetti and Sudafed.
Talk about horrible timing: Keek's parents are divorcing, her mom is on the other side of the country tending to her premature baby cousin, her best friend has betrayed the crap out of her and she's just gotten in her first massive, possibly relationship-ending fight with her boyfriend...You know what would just make Keek's life sofa-king perfect? Chicken pox! Come on down!
Next thing she knows, Keek is banished to her grandmother's house with The Bell Jar, no internet, a typewriter and a whooooole lot of feelings. Luckily it's like a general rule the higher the fever the better the manifesto and Keek's journal is no exception.
First off, I need to express my undying love for the heroine of this book. Keek is just fantastic. (And with a name like that she'd have to be, right?) Keek's voice is so strong. She is real, funny and overall so damn INTERESTING. I felt such a strong connection with her that several times it seemed like she was speaking directly to me, cracking me up with inside jokes and telling me stories I'd specifically appreciate. I loved her from her first feverish sentence. I'd even go as far as to call her one of my favorite heroines ever. She'd definitely make the short-list.
Sometimes though, it seemed Keek was closer to a sophomore in college than a sophomore in high school, some older version of Keek looking back on a fateful summer. That could also be a result/fault of the format, which while genius in some ways, screwed with the overall feeling of the book in others. Keek is basically typing her thoughts while she's held hostage by the chicken pox and everything else in her life is going to crap. Originally it is absolutely hysterical because of her feverish rants and musings but as the fever subsides Keek's writing veers from absolute candor toward more contemplative observations.
This became especially obvious when it was time to wrap up the plot lines. The format made the endings seem so much tidier than they actually were because Keek was telling us her end evaluations after she had thought about it, not her unreserved reactions while things were actually happening. It contrasts to the emotional outbursts and inner monologue train of thought feeling of the feverish entries and ends up more like overly tidy summaries by a fifteen year old with enviable amounts of perspective and self-awareness.
BUT that introspection is also what makes Keek such a great character in the first place. I was ultimately charmed at all of the thought she put into everything (even when it bordered on becoming a The Bell Jar book report). This isn’t just some superficial stressing Keek is doing, this is analysis! She’s a deep thinker! She is looking for the deeper meaning of things! She’s trying to understand! And I absolutely freaking loved that about her. I think you will too.
Rating: 4/5 stars. I'd definitely recommend this book.