And Then Things Fall Apart by Adrianna Tibensky

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: July 26, 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 978-1442413238
 Format: Paperback, 272 pages
 Source: for review 

Rating: C
First line: I once watched a collector kill a monarch butterfly on a nature show by putting it under a glass dome with a piece of cotton soaked in gasoline.

Image by FlamingText.com
And Then Things Fell Apart is quite literally a book about things falling apart. Or somewhat. Mostly.

In the book, fifteen year old Keek is holed up in her grandmother's house with the chicken pox. It's the proverbial icing on her over-cooked life (as in, less than perfect and unexpected, like when you burn a cake. Go with it.) She and her boyfriend have broken up, her baby cousin is dying, her mother has fled (temporarily) and her father had an affair and destroyed his marriage. Enter the pox. Now, all Keek can do is read The Bell Jar, her favorite book, sleep and spend her waking high fevered hours reflecting on how she ended up trapped in a guest bedroom with only an old typewriter for company.

This book has a unique charm to it. There's something so cynical about Keek and her view on things, that it's entertaining. She has this story to tell, these things that happened to her and really affected her in a way she doesn't even know how to express. So, she reads The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and she writes away the delirium caused by her extremely high fever.

I've never read The Bell Jar. Aside from a few poems, I've never really read Plath. I know who she is, but that's about all. I was hesitant about how Tibensky would weave together this world of fiction to this character's life, but she really pulled it off as far as relating things. Keek's story has these odd and quirky parallels to Plath's words. 

However, despite the cute quirks of And Then Things Fall Apart, I didn't love it. Keek was so whiny! She whined all the time. I'm not saying it wasn't justified--it was--but as a reader it was a little too much for me. Sometimes, it was very funny whining, but whining is still what it is even it's funny.

One major issue of the book for me was that Keek did not sound like a fifteen year old. I could peg her for seventeen--sixteen maybe--but that seemed really misplaced to me. There are so many times when she's too experienced, too sophisticated and too well versed to be fifteen. And then she sends a text message (later in the book) that I have to read 3-4 times to understand. It seemed off to me. Sometimes, I felt as if the author was talking through the character--forcing out some of the things she believed or felt into Keek--and it caused her voice to slip.

While I was reading it was hard to connect and difficult to enjoy. BUT as the weeks have passed since I've read it, I can see it's charm more and more and would actually call it likeable. I think fans of Sylvia Plath would really enjoy the parallels and I'd be interested to hear their thoughts. Even if I didn't love the book, my friend Nikki really did. I think it totally depends on personal taste! It has quirkiness to offer and I think it could be fun for some readers.

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