Author: Arlaina Tibensky
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 26, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Galley Grab
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.
Keek is an easily likable character. The strength and honesty of her voice draws me into her story, and her vulnerability makes it easy to sympathize with her. I enjoy her humor and angst equally, and find her to be a great narrator and story teller. Her flaws make her feel real. All of the characters in this book are wonderfully flawed, and those imperfections breathe life into them.
The story is told via the pages that Keek types up on an old typewriter. She doesn't want to call it a diary or journal, so I won't either, but it has the personal touch of the things one would write down privately. I find this personal storytelling to be effective in connecting the reader to Keek and generating sympathy for her situation. It feels as though she is sharing her truths with the reader alone. I like the way that Keek uses The Bell Jar and other Sylvia Plath works to supplement her story and illustrate some of the struggle it is causing her. It is woven into the text fluidly.
Keek does a lot of self-exploration and discovery in the novel, and not all of it is PG-13. She is mostly innocent, but enjoys exploring her sexuality gradually with her boyfriend, who is respectful and does not rush or pressure her. Some content, though, may be a little mature or graphic for younger teens.
I really like this book and its raw honesty and flawed characters. It's a wonderful story, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes character driven novels.
Check out my character interview with Keek, as well.