Interview With Athena Dixon, Author of The Incredible Shrinking Woman [Giveaway]

A: Thank you for your time, Ms. Dixon! I got a chance to read your essay collection, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, and your poetry collection, No God In This Room, last month, and both pieces really resonated with me!

What was the process like writing and getting The Incredible Shrinking Woman published? Did you find your experience with an independent press different than working with a larger publisher?

AD: The manuscript started as a series of individual essays in 2012. I was going through a pretty rough breakup and I found poetry wasn’t giving me the space I needed to express everything I was feeling. I began writing personal essays as a remedy. In 2016, I attended a creative non-fiction conference and started toying with the idea of pulling together a book. I threw together every essay I’d written over that four-year span and started trying to make sense of it. It didn’t go too well and I went back and forth in adding and subtracting pieces from it. I continued to write and publish work from time to time and in late 2019 I thought I’d come up with a decent manuscript. I researched presses I thought would be a good home for the book and came up with a list of four. I did not pursue publishing with a larger press at all. Fortunately for me, Split/Lip was on my first-choice list and wanted to give the book home. 

Working with an independent press has been great! From the very beginning I’ve felt that they were not only interested in the book, but also me as a person. Writing personal essays can be a very scary thing and having a group of people working on your project who respect that is a gift. Being with an indie press allowed me to have a stronger voice in the kinds of edits I was willing or unwilling to accept. I also had amazing freedom in deciding on my cover design, promo events, and blurbs. It felt more like a collaboration than someone doing me a favor by publishing my work. 

Book Cover of The Incredible Shrinking Woman by Athena Dixon

A: Did you have a specific audience in mind when you were writing The Incredible Shrinking Woman

AD: I generally consider myself my first audience and from there I hope to find a connection with people who’ve had similar experiences. I hope that I am writing for people who feel on the fringes or invisible—kinda like background music. Those people who help make the world go ‘round but aren’t necessarily the ones in the spotlight. I think it is important to craft stories for audiences who are dynamic and interesting in ways that may not always get attention. There is a world of people who feel as if they don’t have a voice and I hope that in my exploration of my own invisibility and shrinking I am helping them be seen and heard as well.  

A: In a virtual craft chat with The Writer’s Center, you mentioned “wanting to be seen and then being afraid when you [were] seen [and] working through what you’re asking people to see.” Did this sentiment play into naming your essay collection The Incredible Shrinking Woman?

AD: The collection had several names, but this one seemed to fit the best once the final slate of essays was solidified. When I began writing, I thought I was writing about something completely different, but as the manuscript progressed it seemed more and more, I was writing about ideas of shrinking and invisibility. I’d never considered just how much time I’d spent trying to fit into boxes and roles that never seemed to contain all I believe I am. But I also had to confront what it means to be seen. Asking for it and actually having it are worlds different. There’s a bit of a play on words with the title, too. There is the active shrinking that takes place, but there are also elements of a sideshow or exposure in the use of the word incredible. 

Virtual Craft Chat with Athena Dixon

A: My favorite essay in your collection is “Reader’s Insert.” In the piece, you say:

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve slipped myself into roles that don’t quite fit, roles that aren’t quite real…I’ve always felt invisible, so accurately telling the story of me starts with a disappearing act. 

Invisible. It’s a word that has gotten blowback from friends and family in ways I never expected. I suppose they think they see me. But I don’t think anyone really does. At least in terms of a whole person, that is.”

This quote resonated with me because, as a Black woman, there seems to be a substantial gap between the expectations placed on us individually and as a group versus the actual empathy that is offered to us as human beings. Instead, we seem to be rendered as invisible or treated as pieces of a whole. Did your perception or definition of yourself change as you wrote this collection of essays and came into your voice as a writer?

AD: My greatest fear putting the collection in the world was being exposed and judged. I thought people would see me as weak or damaged in some way, but I found that I grew more confident personally and creatively as the collection took shape. I think it is partially because I was able to let go of some experiences that had been weighing me down and also realizing there are dynamic parts of me I should share with the world despite my fears.  As well, by examining some of the issues in the collection, I was able to see parts of myself I couldn’t while I was in the thick of it. I learned I am much stronger than I knew and that I have so much to offer to not only myself but also the world. I think writing the book helped me unlock portions of myself I’d hidden away in order to fit what I thought the world wanted to see of me. 

A: Your essay, “Native Tongue,” was another favorite for me. One of the things I loved about your essays is the way that you give voice to those Black girls who aren’t labeled as being “conventionally Black” in the way you described your cousins as being with their “Salt N’ Pepa hairstyles” or even your best friend, Greta.  Why was it important for you to tell this particular story of coming into your Blackness in “Native Tongue?”

AD: It was important for me because I think sometimes there’s an idea that if you are born into a particular background you settle in smoothly. For me, I always felt loved and cared for, but I struggled to find where I fit within the confines of the culture around me. I so badly wanted to be like my cousins and my parents, but I never considered the idea there were other avenues that were tailored to me. And I think it was important to recognize and acknowledge my own narrow view of what I thought Blackness entailed. 

A: There’s a line in “Vagina, Slightly Used,” where you say:

 “It’s because I’d felt so invisible my entire existence that I gathered greedily what was laid out before me. I’ve always felt like my being deemed desirable by a man was a fluke.” 

In the same way you give voice to the “non-conventional” Black girls, you represent for women who are believed to take up too much space physically with their bodies and those Black women who are denying themselves a “fairytale ending” because the world said we can’t/don’t deserve one. 

Currently, soundbites of “image consultants,” like Kevin Samuels, and celebrities, like B. Simone, are going viral for shaming Black women for daring to believing we deserve a happy ending. Do you feel as if there is starting to be a movement to commodify the inherent “shame” that Black women, like yourself and I, are fed throughout our lives by mass media and brands?

AD: I do. I think people are so intent on solidifying their own importance, and pockets, that they are willing to sacrifice the well-being of others in order to do so. I think it’s easy to prey on people’s insecurities while setting impossible standards they can never achieve because the goal posts always move. There is a part of me that feels some of this is a backlash to the “less desirable” women starting to gain confidence or ignoring what society thinks they should be. The shameful part of it is when other Black people, who know discrimination and harm first hand, take part in it denigrating their own people for the sake of profit and popularity.  

A: The Incredible Shrinking Woman is raw and has so many visceral moments that left me, as a reader, swept up emotionally in your words because of their authenticity and how true they rang in my lived experience as a Black woman. How were you able to draw on so many powerful emotions as a writer, and not become bogged down by them long enough to get your thoughts onto the paper?

AD: I was able to do that in some instances, but there were a few times that I got lost. I couldn’t read “Liturgy” without crying for about a year after I wrote it. Part of that was because I hadn’t really dealt with that grief. Fortunately, I’d processed, or started to process, most of the other topics I covered in the book. I look at my subjects as a bruise. If I can touch it and there is only an ache then I feel safe writing about it. If there is marked pain, then I know that I am not ready to fully explore that topic for public consumption. 

A: Music is heavily attached to your writing with your father being a DJ. What’s on your playlist now?

AD: I have a playlist for everything, but there are few things I have on repeat right now. “Everything I Wanted” by Nuq, “Moment” by Victoria Monet, “Good & Plenty” by Alex Isley, “I Mean It” by PJ, “Vibe” by Cookie Kawaii, and “Whoa (Remix)” by Snoh Aalegra feat Pharell Williams. I’ve also been using “Whatever Lola Wants” by Sarah Vaughn and “All Blues” by Miles Davis to craft a few pieces on my plate at the moment. 

A: What writers or pieces of art have influenced your writing?

AD: My absolute favorite book is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I think it’s the perfect blend of storytelling and language. I come back to it often. I count is as the first time I read a piece of prose that made me understand there was no shame or fear in using your voice and dialect exactly as it was and that while language has rules that doesn’t mean how you craft it makes it any less valid. It was also the first book that overwhelmed at first, but I came back to and loved. I also find a of inspiration in Sonic Memories by Cija Jefferson, How to Sit by Tyrese Coleman, Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward, and anything by Kiese Laymon. Each of them has a way of making life beautifully elevated without being inaccessible. 

A: Do you have any advice you would give to people who want to write?

AD: I would say write for yourself before anyone else. If there is no heart or passion behind what you are writing your audience can tell. If you don’t like what you are writing why would your readers? 

A: Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Dixon! I can’t wait to read more of your work!

Athena Dixon’s Bio

Author, Athena Dixon

Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Athena Dixon is a poet, essayist, and editor. She is the author of The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Split/Lip Press 2020) and No God In This Room  (Argus House Press 2018). Her work also appears in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books).

Athena’s work has appeared in various publications both online and in print. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (2016, 2017), a Best of the Net nominee (2017), a Callaloo fellow (Oxford 2017), a V.O.N.A. fellow (2018), and a Tin House Workshop attendee (Winter 2019).  Athena is a member of the Moving Forewards Memoir Writers Collective. Additionally, she has presented at AWP (2013, 2020), HippoCamp (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020) and The Muse and the Marketplace (2019) among other panels and conferences.

She is Founder of Linden Avenue Literary Journal (2012-2021). Athena is the co-host of the New Books in Poetry Podcast via the New Books Network.

She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.

To win a copy of The Incredible Shrinking Woman, follow my blog via email or WordPress reader, and comment below your favorite poet or author you’ve been moved by. Extra entry for following me on Instagram @IntrovertInterrupted and share a screenshot of this post in your IG stories every 24-hours and tag me. The giveaway is open internationally!

MLK Giveaway Hop

The MLK Giveaway Hop is hosted by The Caffeinated Reviewer & Mocha Girls Read !

Image created by Mocha Girls Read

Welcome to my stop on the MLK Giveaway Hop, which is hosted by The Caffeinated Reviewer & Mocha Girls Read.  The giveaway will last from Monday, January 18, to Monday, January 25, 2020.

Thank you to Harper Teen, Simon Teen, and Mahogany L. Browne for allowing me to receive finishing copies of the following books. Originally, these novels were meant for my Instagram Kwanzaa Giveaway. But, I wanted to give back to my subscribers for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Cover of The Black Kids
Author, Christina Hammonds Reed

Synopsis: This coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots. Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year. Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

Author, Mahogany L. Browne

Synopsis: A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes. 

Cover of Chlorine Sky

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

Cover of Early Departures

Synopsis: Justin A. Reynolds, author of Opposite of Always, delivers another smart, funny, and powerful stand-alone YA contemporary novel, with a speculative twist in which Jamal’s best friend is brought back to life after a freak accident . . . but they only have a short time together before he will die again.

Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die . . . again.

He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident.

Author, Justin A. Reynolds

But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies . . . forever.

Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?

Ways to enter the contest

To enter to win all three novels, you MUST:

  • Be subscribed to my blog via email or on WordPress
  • Like this post
  • Comment below with your favorite Young Adult read y an African or African-American author from 2020
  • An extra entry a piece will be given for anyone who follows me on Instagram (@IntrovertInterrupted) and twitter (@MakeItLITerary) and shares a photo or link to this giveaway. Tag me on each platform, so I can count your entry!

Happy Reading!

Adira

Ruby Red Trilogy Review

I gave this series a solid 5 stars and also added these two books onto my favorite of all times list. 

The Ruby Red Series by Kerstin Gier took me by surprise. When I initially picked up Ruby Red, the first novel in the series, I was expecting a quaint story about a teenage girl who time traveled and a few historically relevant scenes that made for just another angsty teen fantasy novel. However, what I got was a fun and witty story about a girl named Gwyneth who inherits her family’s “time traveling” gene instead of her cousin, Charlotte who was believed to be the apparent heir for sixteen years. Unlike Gwyneth, Charlotte was thoroughly trained to handle being a time traveler and was initiated into the society’s secrets through private lessons since the time of her birth.

Ill-prepared for her new job Gwyneth makes up the rules as she goes along. From falling in love with her time traveling partner, Gideon, to being introduced to the infamous Count Saint-Germane, leader of the secret time traveling society (who has long been dead), Gwyneth proves that she is not just an accessory to anyone else’s agenda. Instead, she searches for clues in the past and the present with the help of her best friend, Leslie and the ghost and demons who follow her around.

To make matters even more interesting, Gier has stretched the cast of the series across different time periods, which gives the story a Clue like feel. Each characters’ motives come off as suspicious and it seems that Gwyneth can only trust herself, which causes the series’ plot to be full of suspense.

The first book in the series is geared more toward character formation and unraveling who Gwyneth is and what role she plays in the time travelers’ mystery. However, Sapphire Blue has a bit more action than Ruby Red. In this second installment readers get to see Gwyneth travel back in time more and converse with her ancestors, which allows her to obtain more answers to her questions about why she must time travel.

Also, in Sapphire Blue, the love connection between Gwyneth and Gideon becomes more apparent. Gier constructs this weird dynamic between these two characters in her first book and it only gets
more complicated as the series goes on. At first, it seems like Gideon likes Gwyneth. Then, it seems like he hates her. THEN, it’s like okay, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t…in short, his character holds a lot of secrets. None of which, are really revealed until the end of Sapphire Blue.

Gideon’s character seems to be good however, my actual feelings toward him changes continuously throughout the first two books. When he’s first introduced, I just assume that he is a sort of secret bad guy. Later on, it’s revealed that he was mostly raised by the secret society and was unable to 

actually spend time with other kids besides Charlotte. Therefore, the fact that Gwyneth is his new untrained time traveling sidekick is a little much for him to bear. Yet, he outwardly warms toward her, but still gives multiple hints that he would rather work alone. This places him on the potential bad guy list along with like 50 other people.

This series is definitely one that I would recommend. Sadly, with this new installment comes a new cover design. Gone are the beautiful original jeweled covers and instead, readers will see a dark-haired girl in various colored ball gown standing next to a clock-tower. I am hoping that I can find a copy of the final book with the original cover since these books are translated from German into English.

(Originally posted on my Blogger on June 9, 2013.)

Happy Reading!

Book Spine Poetry Challenge (Bout of Books 7.0)

Today marks the ooficial start of Bout of Books‘ Read-A-Thon! The first Challenge is the Book Spine Poetry contest held by Escape Through The Pages. Here is my first attempt at book spine poetry:
In the land of Invisible Women 
The Duff 
Maps 
What Is The What 
The Whole Story of Half A Girl 
Ruby Red
(and) WICKED
(…a) desert flower


*words in parentheses were added.

Hope you all enjoyed my novice attempt at poetry (^_^).

Cheers!

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger Book Review

 I gave this book 5 stars.

Kody Keplinger’s novel, The DUFF is the type of book you could read at any age and connect to. The main character, Bianca is a tough as nails girl who’s heart has been hardened by the pains of love. Adamant about never falling in love again, she chooses to enter into an “enemies with benefits” relationship with Wesley, the notorious womanizer of her high school who has problems of his own. Together the two teenagers work through their problems in the form of..ahem…advanced cardio for the grown and sexy. However,  even with their preconceived rules of “no feelings” being involved, Bianca and Wesley learn the hard way that love can infiltrate your heart when you least expect it no matter how hard you plan.

Keplinger’s characters are well developed and likable. Even though Bianca does come off as cynical at times, the reader gets shown that her feelings of anger and frustration are justified. The way that this character antagonizes over being “the duff” a.k.a the designated ugly fat friend, is something that is especially well portrayed by the author and made into a relatable point for anyone who chooses to read this book due to the fact that most people have felt like the dud of their circle of friends at one point of their life or another.

On the flip side, Wesley’s character while clearly placed into the cliched role of being resident bad boy is endearing opposed to annoying. Even when he makes Bianca feel ashamed of herself by calling her the duff, it’s apparent that his character is battling his own set of demons and does so only as a knee-jerk reaction to his pain.

Keplinger’s choice to use cliched roles in her work is balanced off by the fact that her storyline is solid. Never does the reader feel as if they are being rushed off into a tidy conclusion. Instead, the author paces the story so that her audience can get the full benefit of watching the character’s lives come undone and then slowly pieced back together again. Both Bianca and Wesley’s character are funny, interesting, and sarcastic enough to keep readers entertained and willing to stick wound to finish Keplinger’s story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a good chick-lit book or who just loves a good novel about bad boys and strong opinionated female leads. Yet, I would caution against letting younger readers begin this book being that it is meant for a mature audience due to explicit sex scenes throughout the novel.

April Favorites

This month, I have decided to start doing a monthly favorites post. In this post, I will be paying homage to some of my favorite things, movies, books, etc. that I came across in the stated month.That being said….

My Favorite Book: 
     This month, I got a chance to read Sam Greenlee’s book, The Spook Who Sat By The Door in preparation for completing my final paper for my African-American Literature class. For me, this book was a present surprise. I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I did.
     The novel is about Freeman, an African-American revolutionist who is the “token black” within the CIA during the Civil Rights time period. Angered by the oppression of blacks in America, Freeman takes it upon himself to regain power for this racial group by training African-American gang members in Chicago to become a guerrilla army to fight against Whites. Readers get to see just how far, Freeman is willing to go to gain freedom from those he feel have wrongly governed over
blacks for far too long.
     This book was really powerful for me in terms of its message about how different minority cultures wear mask in an attempt to hide their true feelings about certain situations (i.e., questions of class, social treatment, etc.) or to keep themselves from shaking up other people’s perception of certain racial groups. While, I read this book as a part of my course curriculum, I would recommend it for anybody who enjoys a good historical novel or who wants to read a book that is akin to Native Son by Richard Wright or Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I didn’t write a review on this because I had so many emotions after reading it and was unsure how to put them all into a coherent review that was tasteful and informative opposed to sporadic ranting and philosophical musings…after all I do enough of that in school and this is my “happy place.” If anyone is interested in this book, I would definitely go on ebay and get a copy. The novel itself is sort of hard to get a hold of due to it being banned for a period of time by the American government (LOL it literally brings a whole new meaning to the term “banned” books).

My Favorite Movie:
      I simply LOVE the movie, Silver Linings Playbook. This movie had everything in it, romance, comedy, drama, mental illness topics…In short, it was phenomenal! The main plot follows Pat Solitano who has recently been released from a mental health facility. Pat’s main goal is to reconnect with his estranged wife, Nicki who he feels will fall back in love with him if only she can see just how well he is doing. Unfortunately, his family and friends aren’t giving up any information about Nicki to him and he’s left to fend for himself in winning his ex-wife back. When Pat meets Tiffany, a fellow unstable individual, he hatches a plan to get Nicki back and pick up the pieces of his life.
      What I loved about this movie is that it felt original. It didn’t feel like the characters were transplants from other movies who were just taking on new roles for the sake of drama, everything had a point. I also loved Bradley Cooper (Pat) and Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) in this movie. They along with Chris Tucker played their roles flawlessly. Chris Tucker, who played Pat’s best friend from rehab, Danny added the perfect touch of comedy throughout the movie. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who loves a good romantic-comedy. I also want to read the book, which was written by Mathew Quick.

My Favorite Music:
       This month, I committed a rarity for me, I bought a FULL CD from iTunes instead of just individual songs off an album. The CD I bought was Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy. This CD is phenomenal! In total, there are eleven songs on the album with sounds that range from R&B like tracks all the way to rock. I definitely didn’t feel as if the album was one note thanks to the versatility that I saw in the album track list. If I was forced to choose specific songs to play on repeat, I would have to say my absolute favorite songs are “The Phoenix,” “Where Did the Party Go,” The Mighty Fall,” and “Just One Yesterday (feat. Foxes).” Even though the other songs are pure gold too, these four songs are my go-to walking soundtrack for getting to and from school on my early morning commutes.

My Favorite Television Show:
      This one was a bit of a no brainer since, I can’t get enough of watching reality television regardless of how scripted it maybe. Since it’s debut over four seasons ago, I have been in love with Style Networks’ Jerseylicious. This show follows a group of New Jersey hairstylists and make-up artist along with their families. Each season the show centers for the most part around two or more individuals who are at odds with each other and the audience gets to watch the juicy drama that ensues. The show also follows the characters as they go about their daily work lives.
      For the most part, Jerseylicious is tame compared to other reality shows that focus on a set cast. The hairstylists and make-up artist aren’t usually overly violent with the exception of maybe once/twice a season when an actual fist fight breaks out at random. The brunt of the drama takes place in gossip form that mirrors that of petty high schoolers so it is safe for people of all ages however, I would advise some parental control for individuals who are at an impressionable age. Yet, it should be noted that the cast do do good deeds such as, raising money and getting donations for Hurricane Sandy victims throughout New Jersey or putting together a coffee table book of different style icons from New Jersey’s history. If you ever get a chance, I would highly recommend this show especially, for people who were once avid Jersey Shore fans.

Cheers!

Book Publishing Screw Up

While re-deciding what books to read this week I encountered a funny publishing mistake.

For the last year, I have been dying to read All Roads Lead To Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith. I finally broke down and ordered a copy from Thriftbooks.com over winter break as a Christmas present to myself. I didn’t get around to actually having time to read the book until this week and was gung-ho to add it to my TBR pile for this weekend until I opened it up….

…It turns out that my copy starts at Chapter 3. At first I thought that this was totally normal and that this book was the type of book where the storyline circles back around. I thought this because the novel is a travel memoir that has been written about Smith’s account of spending a year traveling and discussing Jane Austen books with different book groups in Latin America. Sadly, this is an ill conceived thought. According to Amazon First Looks, my book should have started some 30+ pages ago with the Author’s Note.

Le sigh…I guess I’ll have to write to the company I bought the book from and ask for another copy. I seriously can’t wait to read this book. Anticipation is literally swelling inside me and putting me on a book high.

smh…Anticipation is the devil in disguise.

Going To The Edge Of Crazy: A Book Review On "32 Candles" by Ernessa T. Carter

I gave this book a solid 5 stars!!!

Ernessa T. Carter’s book, 32 Candles kept me entertained from start to finish.

Davidia Jones is an outcast at her school and unloved by her mother. Growing up as a dark-skinned African-American girl in her southern Mississippi town, she learns to fold in on herself and become numb to others’ taunts about her skin tone. Add to this the fact that Davidia refuses to speak at all, and it’s a recipe for disaster. However, once she reaches high school, the unthinkable happens……..she falls in love with James Farell, the newly arrived small-town football player and resident rich boy.

While James fails to acknowledge her presence, Davidia takes matters into her own hand and uses her Molly Ringwald-playbook to win James’ love. Unfortunately, James’s sisters have something else in mind and set off to make Davidia’s life hell. Fleeing from her small town after a prank goes too far, Davidia hitchhikes to Los Angeles with a female trucker. Here she changes her name to Davie Jones and becomes a sultry lounge singer. Seventeen years later, James walks back into Davie’s life and this time, she’s ready.

Davidia/Davie’s character is one of those characters that worm their way into the reader’s heart and forces them to become invested in the character’s story. Davidia’s character is well constructed and feels authentic to the reader. Even when she exacts her revenge on the Farell family, the reader has sympathy for her and may even want to help her payback the rich snobs who caused Davidia pain in high school by bullying her.

The author’s pacing for this story helps drive the story’s action. This is helpful in building the story steadily to climax and keeps the reader interested. The storyline also felt well though out and was easy to relate to whether you were popular in high school or an outcast. While the novel does span over a time period of roughly twenty-eight years, the pacing of the story never has the reader feeling the urge to hit fast forward on Davidia’s story.

Carter’s novel is definitely one that I would recommend to anyone who wants a taste of revenge or who just loves a good novel about a girl coming of age in the 80’s. However, I would caution that this book is meant for a mature audience since there are some heated scenes within the novel that may not be appropriate for a younger audience.

Cheers!

Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Book Review

This book was finished on April 13, 2013.

I gave this book 4 stars.

After reading Lola & The Boy Next Door, I was a little skeptical about the hype surrounding Stephanie Perkins’ novels. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in reading Anna & The French Kiss.

Anna is a rising senior from Atlanta, Georgia who’s father sends her off to spend her last year in high school at the American School of Paris. Crazy as it sounds, Anna is UPSET that her father would do something as wonderful as give her an all expensive paid YEAR in Paris! So grudgingly, she enters her final year of high school in a distant land where she doesn’t speak the language. However, once Anna is there, she meets a group of amazing friends and starts off a year full of new beginnings. There’s just one problem….she ends up falling for a boy who is taken.

While Anna’s’ character is somewhat cliche, her storyline isn’t overly unbearable. Perkins adds depth to the storyline by pairing Anna’s trials and tribulations with different viewings of cinema or books that the character studies in school or goes to see in her free time. I really enjoyed this maneuver by Perkins because unlike in Lola’s story, Anna’s dream of becoming a film critic are acted on subtly instead of drastically. This allowed me to not feel overpowered by the extraness of Anna’s character. The interweaving of movie knowledge within Anna’s story also gave me something to draw comparison’s to in Anna and St. Clair’s (i.e., her French crush) encounters.

In addition to this, I enjoyed the fact that Perkins’ novel was set in the romantic atmosphere of Paris, but she didn’t try to beat readers over the head with too much romance too quick. She spoonfeeds her readers Anna and St. Clair’s story in a way that isn’t tedious or too overbearing. ***SPOILER*** Yet, I was a little peeved that one of Anna and St. Clair’s other friends was hurt in the process of the two becoming a couple. I would’ve preferred if Perkins didn’t insert an extra girl for Anna to have to compete with within her own circle of friends to date St. Clair. This just seemed extra brutal in terms of the standard rules of friendship do’s and dont’s.***SPOILER***

This being said, while this book isn’t fully original in plot or theme, I did truly enjoy it. I would definitely reread and recommend this book to others. I’m seriously really looking forward to Isla & The Happy Ever After to come out in September after reading this novel.