“Recommend A…” is a meme started by Shanyn at chickloveslit. Every Monday, there will be a new theme inspiring many different, awesome book recommendations. It’s a great way to allow those books we love (but sometimes miss) to resurface.
This week’s prompt is:
Recommend A… Book You Read This Year.
Though I read it back in January (even though it was published fall 2011), my pick is And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky.
|Keek’s life was totally perfect…
Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever; her best friend heinously betrayed her; her parents are divorcing; and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze — she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can make them right.
The only way I can describe Arliana Tibensky’s And Then Things Fall Apart is as a book for book-lovers. The story follows Keek as she’s confined in a room at her grandmother’s, combating the chicken pox, amongst various other issues in her life concerning her parents, her friends, and her boyfriend as a true bookish person would — through writing and through literature. Told through Keek’s thoughts, poetry, and reflections, And Then Things Fall Apart is a book about actualteenagers. I found Keek’s narrative to be honest, blunt, hilarious, intelligent, and snarky, and even though sometimes she tended to be a bit melodramatic, I never felt irritated by her voice. (She never gave me a reason to feel that way, since she’d understand, after she was done venting, that there were things in the world much worse than her own problems.)
I also loved that Keek turned to her favorite novel, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path, to understand and deal with the chaos of her life (without resorting to extremities). I know how it feels when life feels too difficult to handle, and sometimes it’s comforting to seek advice in the written word, especially if this is a novel that has seen you through many awful and awesome times. It can serve as escapism or facets of it can actually somehow help you through it all, but either way, this story is special to you.
What stood out to me most about And Then Things Fall Apart, and the reason why I’d recommend it to anyone, are the themes and messages — from healthy communication (especially about sex) in teenage relationships, to the way there are several sides and grey areas in every story, to the fact that parents can make mistakes (sometimes enormous ones) too.
(Keek also has the most amazing, sofa king awesome substitutes for expletives. I don’t really curse, but if I did or ever needed to, I can sofa king guarantee I’ll be adopting Keek’s.)
And Then Things Fall Apart is more of a reflective novel than an adventurous one, however, Keek is a compelling character, and her journey — even though it is mostly inside her head — is still worth following.