Feeling Sorry for Celia
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Published by Macmillan Children's Books, Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9780330397254 (2010 Paperback Edition)
Visit Jaclyn Moriarty's Website
Feeling Sorry for Celia on the Pan Macmillan website
"Dear Ms Clarry,
It has come to our attention that you are incredibly bad at being a teenager.
The Association of Teenagers"
It isn't just the story, but also is the pleasure of reading this book due to how it was written, that makes this book wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that I want to share it with you and have included a giveaway at the end of this review.
Feeling Sorry for Celia is a beautiful story about being a teenager, looking at friendship, family, love and school life. It is fun to read, for the most part non-judgemental, and most of all it shows that real life and real people are just not perfect. It was a real pleasure to read: funny, heart-warming and very honest. I think many people will recognise some part of their teenage self in this book and its characters.
The story is set out in a series of letters written to, and by, Elizabeth Clarry. It is certainly not easy to set out a novel that way, yet Jaclyn Moriarty accomplishes this beautifully, so that the letters themselves grip you and you begin to anxiously await the next one just as much as the characters. Each letter reflects the nature of the person writing it, and the letters between the teens are so conversational, relaxed and natural. Letter writing is a beautiful art and I can completely relate to Elizabeth's English teacher Mr Botherit (what a name) who "seems really upset that the Art of Letter Writing is lost to the Intenet Generation", even if I am also a part of that generation. When I was younger my best friend returned to her native country and we began to communicate by letters. We'd send each other photographs and gifts, it was so special. Reading this book reminded me of that - it made me want to pick up a pen and paper and write a letter again. Elizabeth's mystery pen pal is so different to her, yet they immediately hit it off and develop something very special even without meeting. And then there is the other mystery letter writer: I won't spoil it for you, but it is so sweet and romantic, it really is adorable. OK, I'll say no more.
The book touches on teenage experiences. Sometimes it seems to pass too lightly over the experiences, such as sexual relationships, family issues and emotions. There is no real message about these issues other than that they happen to us all and that it is good to have someone to talk to about them, perhaps a counsellor, but I don't think the book intended to be a treatise on how to deal with teenage issues.
I love the characters, all of them. There is such an interesting mix of people, non of whom are perfect, none of whom are "good" or "bad" they are just real. Most of all I liked Elizabeth and her pen pal - the friendship that develops between them is great, but also individually they are both wonderful people.
I think it is fitting that the title puts the mysterious Celia at the centre of the story. Celia is, in a sense, the most important figure in the story, but as the story progresses she both loses and gains importance. She loses importance as Elizabeth Clarry develops as an individual, but gains importance because one way or another, this development and everything that has happened is down to Celia. It reminded me of another excellent book I read, Abel Sanchez, a modern-day retelling of Caine and Abel. Just as the story of Caine, or Joaquin, cannot be separated from Abel, Elizabeth cannot truly be separated from Celia.
My only issue is that while Elizabeth is supposedly not a typical teen exactly, which is pointed out to her ever so clearly by "The Assocation of Teenagers", I think that in fact she is pretty normal - more than anything the definition of being a teen by said Association is just too narrow. Elizabeth does actually give The Association of Teenagers a piece of her mind and she is a lot more level-headed than many around her, but I still felt that she was still achieving the limited goals set out for her by typical-teen-dom, albeit in her own time and when she felt ready.
Anyway the point is, this book is really good. I did not want to put it down (in fact I stayed up really quite late, or early, to read it) and if you haven't read it yet, you. Having been really bad at being a typical-teenager myself (though I was more of a geek and always did my homework on time, with extras) I liked Elizabeth, I loved her relationship with her peers, and I think the romance that develops for her is incredibly sweet and everyone will adore it (and it may not be the person you expect. Jaclyn does well to keep you guessing, and even I missed a vital clue as a crime-fiction fanatic who loves solving mysteries).
So here comes the giveaway details:
Elizabeth goes to rescue Celia when she runs away to the circus - tell me in the comments below of a time when a friend has done something rash or a little out of the ordinary, and how you responded.
The competition is open to those aged 15 or above, in the UK and Ireland only. The competition ends at midnight on 30th June 2012 when I will pick a winner to receive this delightful book.
And if you can't wait until then, here are some links so that you can get your own copy now!
Buy Feeling Sorry for Celia from Waterstones
Buy Feeling Sorry for Celia from Amazon
Buy Feeling Sorry for Celia from iBookstore