OHHHH you guys. I am…I JUST. My sentences, I cannot finish them.
Ok, so Feeling Sorry for Celia is an extremely stupid and irrelevant title and that is the only criticism I have because the book itself is SO VERY GREAT. It is DROLL and HEARTFELT and WHIMSICAL and NIFTY without being GIMMICKY (ok, it’s a little gimmicky. But it’s gimmicky in a way that WORKS).
So. FSfC is written entirely in letters, from Elizabeth’s mother’s all-capsy notes stuck to the fridge to the letters from what I ASSUME is Elizabeth’s psyche, in the form of the Cold Hard Truth Association, or the Association of Teenagers (who keep admonishing Elizabeth to climb into the fridge, an admonishment which I never failed to find HILARIOUS. My funny bone, it is refrigerator-shaped).
And then but mostly in the form of letters between Elizabeth and her new pen pal Christina (because her school is like, Hey guys, let’s learn old-timey skillz! And then they all churned butter and carded some wool). And all those blurbs that obsess over how witty and teenage Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling is, I THINK YOU MEAN ELIZABETH CLARRY, blurbs. Because Jessica is just kind of whateverfine, but Elizabeth SLAYS me.
Like, ok, in her second letter to Christina, she’s talking about why she long-distance runs, and she’s all, ‘I do it anyway – mainly because I love the bit where you finish and get to stop running. For example: The next race I’m going in is the Belongil Trail Run, which is 15k. Imagine stopping after 15k. It’ll be fantastic.’ Or about how she’s knows she’s not a nice private school girl because most of the girls at her school ARE, and ‘they do this thing whenever I’m talking to them where they blink their mascara’d lashes very quickly as if they need to take lots of little breaks from looking at me.’
So Elizabeth is hilarious, and Christina is also hilarious, and I willingly suspend ALL KINDS of disbelief that the two most hilarious teenage girls happened to end up drawing each other’s names for the pen pal exchange. And then Elizabeth’s hurried, bustling mother who is never home and therefore always leaving notes that say things like, Make the marinade under the heading ‘Oriental Chicken’ and then put the chicken pieces in it, ‘and put it in the fridge. The chicken pieces are in the fridge already, so they have had experience being there.’ And her post-its are always in caps lock. I think you know how I feel about caps lock.
WHAT I AM NOT SAYING VERY WELL IS, if this book had been about nothing I would have enjoyed it mightily. But there is a plot! Um. Elizabeth’s friend Celia runs away and joins the circus and Elizabeth worries about her and eventually she and a charming young man friend go to rescue her and then things go tits up, romantically speaking, and then VERY tits up for both Elizabeth and Christine, severally, and HOSPITALS ARE INVOLVED AND SHIT.
Which I kind of want to make my second criticism, but I don’t even really know how I feel. I mean, things are all Merriment and Lulz and Genial Teenage Angst, Not The Kind That Makes You Punchy But The Self-Deprecating Kind, and then eauuuuuuuuuuuugh bad things happening! Which I guess is not unlike life, so way to sort of curveball me, book.
OH AND ALSO there is a Secret Family Plot, which will never not get my gizzard. I was going to give it eight and a half caterpillars, but then I went and randomly re-read some bits, and THE WHOLE THING IS SUCH GOOD BITS. Nine caterpillars.