Book Reviews

[review] And Then Things Fall Apart – Arlaina Tibensky

Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

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 put them right.

Discovery: I first mentioned this book in an”>Anticipation post . While I hadn’t heard of it earlier in the year, the unique writing style drew me in.

+     Writing style. As I mentioned earlier, And Then Things Fall Apart isn’t a flashy story, but it has a vibrant voice. This book is a diary-of-sorts for Keek and the voice Arlaina Tibensky uses is perfect. The structure lapses into stream-of-consciousness and can sometimes be unwieldy, but what diary isn’t that way? Keek comes across as a smart, spunky teenager who knows what she wants in life, just not how she can get it. In that light, it’s very easy to understand her frustration with all the messes that have popped up in her life.

+     Poetry. I also really enjoyed the verses that Tibensky included every few chapters. More than anything, theygive the reader more insight into Keek’s thoughts and the emotions she can’t write in paragraphs. The titles were creative and funny, the poems themselves fragile bubbles of thought which Tibensky entrusts to the reader.

+/-     Sylvia Plath parallels. Keek is obsessed with the Plath, which is obvious from the multiple mentions in each chapter. It does get repetitive by the halfway point–the reader can be trusted to recognize Esther Greenwood as the protagonist of The Bell Jar. Still, it doesn’t take away from the pure enjoyment of seeing a teenager fully engrossed in a literary figure, even if she is rather dark. I do think it’s clear that Keek admires the sense of control Esther “seems” to have over her life and that’s nothing new for a teenager. She is far more sensible about life though, and I have no worries that Keek will ever end up like Esther.

Recommendations:  About thirty pages in, I put the book down, went to my mom and declared, “I love this book. I’m not even halfway, but I am so crazy in love with Keek and her story.” The poetry and writing structure may frustrate some readers who want a more straightforward story, but it’s a fun and thoughtful novel to devour.

Rating:  Excellent.

Go visit Arlaina Tibensky at her website and follow her on Twitter @arlainat.

You can check out And Then Things Fall Apart on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

Next review: Eve, Anna Carey


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