Rummanah Aasi

  I had the pleasure of participating in the And Then Things Fall Apart blog tour sponsored by the Teen Book Scene. Much thanks to Teen Book Scene and Simon and Schuster for providing me an advanced reader's copy of the book in order to provide you with an honest review.

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.

Review: And Then Things Fall Apart is an intricate character sketch of a teen watching her world fall apart around her and unable to gain any control over any aspect of it. Keek is under house arrest due to chicken pox at her grandmother's house. She journals her thoughts, connects her life to one of her favorite books of all time, Sylvia's Plath's The Bell Jar, to explore her own thoughts, feelings in hopes of making sense of what they really mean on her grandmother's old typewriter.
  Keek's words and emotions flow onto the page. She neither writes in prose nor in verse, but mixes many different types of writing forms that best illustrate her frustrations and  feelings. She also compares her life to that of Plath's protagonist, Esther in The Bell Jar. The connections aren't over the top nor do they match exactly, however, they do convey the same spirit and are given enough context which will help readers understand even if they aren't familiar with Plath's work.
  Keek's voice is unique, real, snarky at best, making her an instant likeable character. Her problems with her boyfriend, feeling sexually inexperienced yet curious about her own sexuality as well as her family drama make Keek approachable. I couldn't help but feel as if she were in the same room talking to me as I read the book, a trusted friend who is ready to vent and needing a confidant. Not only is she serious, she is also quite funny and quirky, making jokes and even at times sounding delirious from being sick and stuck inside a house with her grandmother, her father living in the basement, and no means to contact the outside world except a land-line phone.
    Arlaina Tibensky's debut novel makes us realize why some of us love to read: to find ourselves somewhere in our favorite characters and books, to know that we aren't alone in our own troubles. Rarely are authors able to make 'stream of conscious' writing successful and not forceful, but Arlaina Tibensky is able to create a world for Keek in which she is given complete freedom to explore every detail nook and cranny about her life. Readers who enjoy character introspection and experimental writing will surely enjoy And Then Things Fall Apart.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language as well as frank discussion about sex. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner or Paper Towns by John Green
5 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I really like the sound of Keek, not only am I partial to a girl with some snark, but I love when you feel like you and the character have a unique connection that no one else will have even though they'll read the same book. Fabulous review Rummanah!

  2. Lauren M Says:

    This book sounds very raw and honest, which is something I really enjoy. I'm glad it successfully portrayed the tumultuous life of its protagonist! Thanks for the review! :)

  3. The writing style sounds fantastic. I love the combination - sounds like it brings the emotions to the surface.
    I also like how fairly mundane things (other than the divorce) can make it seem like a teen's world is falling apart. While it may not seem like that big a deal to an adult, it is a big deal to a teen.

  4. YAY so glad to hear it is good! I am so excited to read this. Keek sounds like an amazing character. Awesome review :)

  5. I love characters that have an authentic feel to them, and Keek definitely seems to hit the mark on that front. I admire her already and look forward to reading her story.

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