For 40 days, I am choosing a book from my personal book shelves. It will be a book that is insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women. I will write why I think this book is a positive one and worth a read. This isn’t advertising for me or to promote any of my friends. It’s simply praise for good books.
Day 9, Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
This YA novel by Australian author Jaclyn Moriarty (sister of Liane and Nicola, also authors) is the first of several stories set at two imaginary high schools in Sydney—Ashbury, the toney private school; and Brookfield, the raucous public school. The five Ashbury-Brookfield books are standalones with crossover characters, and all are written using narrative as well as media. In Feeling Sorry for Celia, we meet Elizabeth Clarry, a typical high school girl whose life suddenly gets complicated: her absentee father wants to reconnect; her wacky mother communicates through notes on the fridge; her best friend Celia keeps falling off the grid; and an unidentified boy on the bus has begun leaving “secret admirer” type notes. When a teacher assigns an Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal project, Elizabeth finds a place to spill her questions and record the crazy events through letters and postcards. The pen pal responds in kind, but so do several imaginary organizations—such as the Cold Hard Trust Association and The Best Friends Club—who offer sympathy, criticism, cheerleading, and comeuppance. Elizabeth discovers the world is a small place as the unconnected bits of her life begin to reach out and touch other another.
Why is Feeling Sorry for Celia a good read for women? Elizabeth Clarry is an Everygirl. She is both special and not special at all. You’ll guess alongside as she tries to figure out which of the Brookfield boys is leaving the notes, and you’ll hold your breath in dismay when she wonders if she’s the butt of a practical joke. In Moriarty’s capable hands, the teenage characters are real, but they are also mostly nice. They are people, not kids or people-in-progress. This is also a story about relationships and taking the chance to learn about and like someone who is not like you, and to embrace people who are odd. Such as Mom. The mother-daughter relationship is quirky, but it’s full of trust and caring. Mom is an individual, and her portrayal makes it easy to understand why Elizabeth is independent and sensible, but also likable and fun.