Character Interview: Keek from And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

I'd like to welcome Keek, the main character in And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky, to the blog today to answer some questions!

Keek is not having a good summer. She and her boyfriend have just had their Worst Fight Ever (on the subject of her virginity, nonetheless), she’s been betrayed by a best friend, her parents are splitting up, and her mother is on the other side of the country tending to Keek’s newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. Oh, and Keek’s holed up at her grandmother’s technology-barren house with an abysmal case of the chicken pox. In Keek’s words, “Sofa king annoying.”

With her world collapsing around her, Keek’s only solace comes from rereading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and typing on an old electric typewriter. Keek must ultimately decide for herself which relationships to salvage, which to set free, and what it means to fall in love.

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So, why The Bell Jar? Some might find it to be a bit of a downer, so what is it about this particular book that speaks to you and gives you solace?

Oh, The BELL JAR! Just when I think I am sofa king sick of that book and could recite the whole thing word for word if I were hypnotized, I suddenly think of a scene from it or a quote from it and remember why I fell in love with it in the first place. I actually was into Sylvia Plath's poetry first. "Out of the ash/I rise with my red hair/And I eat men like air," or "Devilish Leopard!" or "Pure? What does it mean?" But in The Bell Jar, there is much more of it and a story to follow about a girl who is fighting like hell to not lose her mind. And Esther, the girl, is funny and fun, when she is not crazy. And every time I read it I find something new. I am I am I am. What is not to love?

To say that you're not having a good summer would be an understatement. Which part is the absolute worst?

My total sense of isolation (no TV, Internet, cell) is arm wrestling with you know, best friend betrayal and boyfriend heartbreak. And when I start getting all depressed about Amanda and her untrustworthiness or Matt and his Matt-ness, I want to call Nic, or go shopping on Etsy or something but, alas and alack. I can't. Wait, I forgot about the hideous chicken pox itching. And the idiotic parents. Don't make me choose the worst. It is all entirely demoralizing and horrible. I can't decide.

How awful! At least you have your grandmother there. What is the single most amazing thing that you've realized about her during your time at her house?

Besides the obvious thrill of the clothes and the asylum stuff and her overall bad assery? Just that she somehow, after everything she's been through, seems to remember what it was like to be young. Like, my age. More than my mom or my dad (who are both way younger than her), my grandma really gets me, better than the two people whose actual job it is to understand me. And she knows how to tie a cherry stem into a knot inside her mouth using only her tongue...a singular talent for sure.

What are the most interesting ways that you can think of to use your name in a sentence?

Here are three!

1. Once he left the room, she keeked like a baby, wiping her eyes with the non-absorbent backs of her hands.

2. While slicing beets, the blade nicked her thumb until there was red blood and pink beet juice swirled together all gory and day-glow and she had to clamp her eyes shut or she was going to keek all over the place and make it ten times worse.

3. There is nothing that makes Aurora laugh harder than playing a rousing game of Keek-A-Boo with her favorite cousin. And that would be me.

Do you have any survival tips for other people who might also be going through one of the worst summers of their lives?

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Or, at least it doesn't kill you. And when things get bad they don't always get better, but I think that you get stronger so you can totally handle what comes at you and move on to better days. And when you really can't take much more, immerse yourself in a great book and its fictional world. That's what I do. And it seems to work!
Many thanks to Keek for stopping by! If you'd like to read more about Keek and her horrible summer, you can find her in And Then Things Fall Apart, by Arlaina Tibensky. I'll be posting a review of it soon, so be looking for that as well.

Arlaina Tibensky is the world's oldest teenager. She lives in NYC where she curates the Pen Parentis Literary Salon at the Libertine Library. Her debut YA novel, And Then Things Fall Apart, about how Sylvia Plath and an old typewriter usher a reluctant virgin through the worst summer of her freaking life, is out July 26, 2011 with Simon & Schuster.
You can find Arlaina on: Website | Twitter

Thanks to The {Teen} Book Scene for hosting the blog tour for And Then Things Fall Apart.

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