Review: And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky



Title: And Then Things Fall Apart
Author: Arlaina Tibensky
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date: 7.26.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Chicken Pox, Relationships, Family, The Bell Jar, Humor
Pages: 272
Description (from Goodreads):

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.

I very much enjoyed AND THEN THINGS FALL APART. The entire story is told primarily from a sickbed, as the main character, Keek, has been struck by a late case of the chicken pox. Keek’s parents are getting divorced, her mom is across the country, and her boyfriend is AWOL. All Keek has to distract her from the itching and other unfortunate side effects is her grandmother, well-loved copy of Sylvia Plath’s THE BELL JAR, and an ancient typewriter.

For me, it was Keek’s voice that made the novel. She’s jaded, sarcastic, generally disillusioned… and who can blame her? It’s no surprise that she identifies so closely with THE BELL JAR, even though she fully admits that sometimes she has no clue what Plath is talking about.

I loved the visual the author evoked of Keek sitting in a bed, covered in itchy bumps and perhaps a bit smelly, with a huge typewriter sitting atop her lap. Or maybe beside her… though I more frequently pictured it perched on her legs as she sat Indian-style. She sits in this room, on this bed, with a typewriter and types through her problems. It’s like extreme journaling.

Though Keek’s grandmother only pops up in the story here and there, I can’t seem to forget about her. She’s nothing like the grandmother that we might stereotypically imagine… she’s a bit harder, a bit more mysterious. I like that though… Keek’s grandmother would sometimes show Keek a bit of her history that I think we often forget grandmothers have… It made me look at my own grandmother in a slightly different light.

I’m curious to see what Arlaina Tibensky will offer readers next… Keek’s personality stands out for me above the other main characters of other recent reads and I’m wondering if her next MC will follow suit.

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