Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: Jellicle Girl by Stevie Mikayne: "A Book for Insights to the Human Mind"

Tuesday morning at Dr. Sullivan's office. For the briefest moment, I considered killing myself to get out of this appointment. That'd really throw her for a loop. Bet she'd never see that coming.

It's been a while since I reviewed a book, but just as I promised, here it is!

This review may contain MILD SPOILERS

Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 234
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: Aug 15, 2012
Website: Stevie Mikayne | Jellicle Girl on Goodreads

Where I got this book: I got a free copy of this book from Books, Biscuits, and Tea in exchange for an honest review - thank you!

Synopsis via Goodreads: 

When Beth met Jackie, she was fifteen and shy, living in the shadow of her mother: talented artist Heather Sarandon. Jackie—wilful, cheeky and confident, made Beth see things in herself that she'd never imagined, and do things she never thought she would. As memories of Beth's last night with Jackie grow more like waking nightmares, Beth does everything she can to forget the girl who was so much more than a friend...

Beth has a self-destructive ritual she swears she'll keep secret, even from the psychologist trying to help her. But Dr. Nancy Sullivan doesn't have time for secrets. In fact, she doesn't have much time at all. She's been charged with helping Beth break through the barriers of her past, knowing very well that her own demons might end her career before she can get through to the stubborn young woman. 

Meanwhile, a young foster child with a wicked sense of humour, and a devastating past, reminds Beth that secrets seem powerful, but can destroy the person who holds them too close. 

A haunting and evocative story about redemption, identity, and learning to let go of secrets that scar.

I'll start small and easy. I've never read a lot of contemporary or realistic fiction (I'm more of a fantasy and sci-fi fan – but you've probably known this from my blog), but Jellicle Girl held my attention just as those magical worlds. But instead, this is a world inside the mind of a teenage girl, who Stevie Mikayne has described with (to use her own words) “searing insight”.

The pacing of the book was a bit slow at first. In fact, I was struggling through the vague prologue. But then as Beth’s story started to unfold, I was pulled into her vast emotions.

Let’s talk more about Beth – after all, she is the main character, and this is a character-driven novel. Beth has a wrecked family life, a mother who is flat and cold, a father who is never home, and a summer gone terribly wrong. She is insecure and confused (though that would be the last word she described herself as). 

Yet never in the whole book did she express the need to be taken care of. Even the readers (who she is telling the story to, in 1st person POV) are only privy to small pieces of the memories that is haunting her. This annoys me at first ("Can somebody, please, just tell me the story?"), but then it helps add to Beth's character, especially when all the pieces click into place. Beth 
is no role model, her “transformation” is not described as inspirational or instant, and that's what connected me to her the most: she could have been anybody - could have been me.

But I feel Jellicle Girl is not just about Beth. It’s about broken people, whose images focus under Beth’s point of view. Everybody in this book has their problems, and Beth’s relationship with them varies according to that: her mother, Nancy, Jackie, the list goes on. She loves some, she hates some, and she has a love-hate relationship with others. But they are all so realistic, so justifiable. As a matter of fact, her emotions felt so real that I, somebody who has never been in the same situation, has never done the things that she did, could feel just as strongly for her. I looked up Stevie Mikayne after I finished reading, and was surprised that somebody could have so much insight into a teenager’s mind, and depict it with such heart-breaking details. 

My favorite thing about the book is how there was always an underlying part of sadness in the story, even in moments when Beth feels closest to happiness - which is usually extremely ephemeral. And I would have to say the synopsis doesn't do this theme justice. Frankly, I don't think it depicts the right theme and atmosphere of the story. But the cover of the book matches the plot perfectly, and it’s the kind of cover that brings more emotion to the book after reading.

Overall, Jellicle Girl was an amazing book, with deep emotional resonance. It’s not hard to read (although there are some occasional philosophical lines that you may want to reread and think about), yet conveys so much insight about the human mind. There are a few things that I didn't like: the pacing, for example, and sometimes the descriptions get too lengthy for my taste. But I would recommend this to everyone who enjoy realistic fictions, and especially to young adults.

Ratings: 5 stars

Warnings: This book contains self-harming, some profane words, and a few mild depictions of adult activities.

Get Jellicle Girl on Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble Nook

So that was a long review! I hope I didn't spoil too much for you, I seriously have so many things to say about this book!

What do you think about Jellicle Girl? Will you be reading it?

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