HI WE’RE BACK DID YOU MISS US LAST WEEK?
Oh. You didn’t notice we were gone.
We’ve been super busy recently with one of us working overtime and one of us on holiday. So let’s back into the swing of 30 before 30 with a short snappy lil book: When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid.
The synopsis: “School is just like a film set: there’s The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn’t fit in. He’s not part of The Crew because he isn’t about to do anything unless it’s court-appointed; he’s not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he’s not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn’t invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.
Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno, Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It’s a total train wreck!
But train wrecks always make the front page.”
Roisin: This book reminded me of the short novels I loved as a young teenager. Short, funny, edgy and it takes its (assumed) teen readers seriously. Talking frankly of teen queer sexuality, the confusions of teen friendships in small town (where you might not even like your closest friends but they are the only ones in school you can ally yourself with based on interests or opposition to classmates you hate or who hate you). It hits all the tones of a dark teen indie movie and I devoured this book in about the same time it would take me to watch one.
However, I can’t say I loved it. It was a little too glossy for me while yelling “Hello! Teens have sex and won’t conform to your gender norms! Did you hear that, Mom? Did you!” But ugghhh I don’t want to write this book off, because like I said about Lullabies for Little Criminals, if I read this in high school it would absolutely blow my mind and I would have been that hypothetical teen yelling “This is real life, Mom!” (I was that teen)
Kathleen: I was pretty conflicted by the use of the R-word throughout the book – I agree that it is a common part of teen vocabulary, but this book was written in 2014! There was a lot of backlash against this novel from lots of gross old homophobic people, and I certainly don’t think this book should be condemned – but there is a lot of unnecessary ableist language.
Having said that, I think this book takes an important look at queer teen life from the point of view of a gender non-conforming character, without glamourizing anything (as much as the main character, Jude, tries to).
I did laughed out loud when a character described someone’s penis as “prodigious,” filing that away for future use!
Roisin: Well pals, I definitely had mixed feelings on this one but I’m sooo glad it was on this list because it’s one I see recommended a lot and never got to, so this one was a nice lil bonus of something that’s been on my “to read” list anyways popping up on the list.
Kathleen: I had never heard of this until I saw it on our list! I’m certainly glad I read it, and I think it also would have blown my mind if I had read it in my teens.
VERDICT: Should it be on the 30 before 30?
Roisin: I’ve definitely had a parallel list in my mind of books to read before 20 that I’ve been sorting some of these books into as we go through this list so I think that’s where I’m putting this one too. So yeah, read it before 30 (but if you can kids, read it before 20).
Kathleen: Same same!
NEXT WEEK’S BOOK: In The Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje