Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Published May 9th 2006 
 Knopf Books for Young Readers 

“People with lost personalities will suffer a great deal more than those with lost virginities.” 

Goodreads Synopsis

A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

My Review

“Comfort zones are overrated. They make you lazy.” 

Wow. This was amazing.

Never have I encountered such a gut twistingly honest version of teenage life in contemporary fiction.

There are no sexy beasts with six packs, no murderous bitches out for blood, no insta love and no same lame back stories.

No. There is Francesca, a reluctant transfer from an all girls school to the newly turned coed St Sebastian. And there is her feisty, always-ready-for-revolution mom, suddenly battling with acute depression; and her happy-go-lucky father who is not so optimistic anymore, and her little brother who huddles with her as they wait for things to go back to how they should be.

Then there is Francesca's group- just a bunch of grudging teens thrown together because there is nowhere else to go and a couple of teachers who say just the right things to perk up a student. 

And there are emotions

Merlin! So many emotions. Truckloads of them. And everyone of these emotions were so gloriously glorious because they were just so real.

“I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I'm sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, "Frankie, you're silly, you're lazy, you're talented, you're passionate, you're restrained, you're blossoming, you're contrary."

I want to be an adjective again. But I'm a noun. 

A nothing. A nobody. A no one.” 

There are no perfect boys who say perfect things. There are just awkward, horny teenagers who fart and crack dirty jokes at inappropriate moments and make you laugh. There are boys who love sports they can't play to save their lives and boys who have hearts as soft as marshmallows and try to act as tough as nails.  There are boys who think with their penises, boys who think with their hearts, boys who think too much and boys who don't think at all. 

“For a moment I can't help thinking how decent he is - that there's some hope for him beyond the obnoxious image he displays. Maybe deep down he is a sensitive guy, who sees us as real people with real issues. I want to say something nice. Some kind of thanks. I stand there, rehearsing it in my mind.

"Oh my God," he says, "did you see that girl's tits?"
Maybe not today.” 

There are no bitchy girls or good girls or stupid girls or rebels. There are your average selfish teens in search of companionship, girls who roughhouse the boys at basketball and cry during cheesy romantic movies, girls who crush at the cute guy at the bus stop and fangirl about him over late night pillow talks and girls who stick together after swearing at each other in ugly fights, girls who claim that they've had enough with sexism and girls who'd rather have popularity than personality. 

“I think I'm a bit in love with these girls. They make me feel giddy. Like I haven't a care in the world. Like I'm fearless."

Ms Marchetta created such a colourful menagerie of characters and wove such a simple but heartfelt story around them that the book was absolutely unputdownable. The simplest, most childish phrases like killing ourselves laughing and duh brain had me grinning like a goof at the realness of it all.

An endearing feel good read!

Highly recommended : 5/5 stars!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blog Hop: Feature and Follow #3

A good way to get more followers is by joining the #FF Feature & Follow Hop!

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? The goal is to increase blog followers and make friends. First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools — keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them “hi” in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win.

Thanks for stopping by!

Q: If you had the money what would your personal library look like? What would be in it? What colours, decoration etc would you put in it?

That's one loaded question indeed!

Umm...well let's see. First and foremost, I would love my personal library to be either in the loft or in the basement! I love the idea of having a library in a secluded portion of the house, like a world different form reality, a safe haven, my own little clubhouse with a trapdoor! :P
It would be warm and well lit, with a gigantic comfy couch and soft rugs to read on for hours on end.
A fancy desktop, a large bulletin board and some flashy posters would complete the look. 

And if I'm being really self indulgent I might just get a high tech security system for the place to keep people away from my pretties. :D What? I'm possessive about my books like that.

And while none of these pictures do justice to what I have in mind, I liked the look and feel of these little libraries. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Made You Up- Francesca Zappia

Published May 19th 2015
 Greenwillow Books

“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.” 

Goodreads Synopsis

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

My Review

“I didn't have the luxury of taking reality for granted. And I wouldn't say I hated people who did, because that's just about everyone. I didn't hate them. They didn't live in my world. 

But that never stopped me from wishing I lived in theirs.” 

I've always had a peculiar fascination with Schizophrenia. 

How does it feel to be unable to distinguish between reality and imagination? How does one cope when the things they adore turn out to be non-corporeal, and just another figment of their mind's creations?

These questions hound my brain every time I encounter a book or a movie dealing with Schizophrenia; be it John Nash and his non-existent best friend in A Beautiful Mind,  Bipasha Basu and her dreamed-up lover in Madhoshi, or poor Karthik who received phone calls from himself in Karthik Calling Karthik.

Francesca Zappia's debut novel deals with the disease in simple yet incredibly engaging way. The protagonist Alexandra Victoria Ridgemont (yeah....her parents were history enthusiasts) a.k.a Alex is a schizophrenic teenager about to start her senior year at a new school after being expelled from her previous school due to some incident, that was a result of just one of the many manifestations of her disease. 

Alex was a delightful protagonist. Her small little quirks- like doing perimeter checks before entering any building, arguing with her self over what was real and what wasn't, her habit of clicking pictures to assure herself that her mind wasn't playing tricks on her, her enthusiasm for history and her adorable adorable impulsiveness- were absolutely relishing to read. It was a bittersweet experience to be inside her head, as she battled with the line between paranoid and crazy and fantasy and reality. I loved that despite of her disease she refused to take shit from anybody and was amazingly strong throughout the book. 

“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?

Would I even be myself?” 

The second extremely likeable, extremely flawed, yet extremely bewitching character was that of Miles James Richter. A total nerd at heart, a boy who "had a way with words", who knew the names of all the Aztec emperors, who played pranks on people for money....these are just some of the shades of the enigma that was Miles. He was the perfect YA hero. Except that it doesn't feel right to call him a hero. He was just Miles, a constant looming mystery that was unraveled bit by bit throughout the course of the book. 

The development of Miles' and Alex's relationship was cute- no insta love and no cliche YA mush and cheese- just a sweet, gradual ascent into love.

“Mile's fingers pressed into the small of my back. "Basorexia," he mumbled.

He laughed. "It's an overwhelming desire to kiss."
"I thought you weren't good at figuring out what you felt."
"I'm probably using the word in the wrong context. But I'm pretty sure that's what this is.” 

I loved all the secondary characters in the book- be it the bitchy Celia, the eccentric school principal, Alex's little sister Charlie and Alex's enchantingly diverse group of friends- everybody had their part to play in the book and the story didn't appear to be about just one person but about everybody.

The story was witty, engaging and unique in a way that made me realise that perhaps each of us has a bit of crazy inside our minds and it all narrows down to the definition of crazy that deemed one crazy. 

"Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I kept taking pictures, hoping I’d look at one and know its subject was a delusion. I did my perimeter checks, thinking I’d eventually be able to walk around paranoia-free. I spent every day hoping someone would tell me I smelled like lemons.

If I wasn’t insane by anyone else’s definition, I figured I was at least insane by Einstein."

Highly recommended. 4/5 stars!