Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Title: And Then Things Fall Apart
Author: Arlaina Tibensky
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: 2011

LOVE. I love this book. I devoured it in a few sittings, completely immersing myself in the summer of Keek, (short for Karina) with her analyzations of family and  boyfriend issues and obsession over The Bell Jar, all while sweating through chicken pox-induced fevers.

Considering the story takes place in one location and is almost entirely Keek's reflections, the pacing is quick and her musings are funny and introspective. Keek spends a few miserable weeks as a shut-in recovering from chicken pox, an affliction that apparently increases in severity with age, and Keek is 15. Her parents are newly separated; her dad's a wreck trying to keep the family restaurant functioning, while her mother takes off to California to help Keek's aunt with a newborn in the NICU. Keek feels abandoned by her boyfriend, who she recently had a fight with, and she's drifted apart from her best friend, leaving her scratching by her lonesome at Gran's house. She's disconnected from the internet, cable TV and has no cell phone reception. What she has is a vintage typewriter from Gran and a copy of her favorite book, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.

While a lot of heavy themes run through the book, the tone is conversational it feels more like an array of spastic thoughts. She types up these thoughts to take her mind off everything she can't control. The parallels made to Esther Greenwood of The Bell Jar are clever and fitting and fuse well with the story. Keek becomes obsessed with Esther, comparing her life to the character and even testing out a few recipes Esther ate (gross ones like a jelly-filled avocado and raw hamburger on a cracker). Gran proves to be a source of comfort, helping Keek deal with her sickness and her parent's break-up.

I related to the premise: I read The Bell Jar at 15, was an only child, experimented writing stories on an old typewriter, wrote bad poetry, had family issues, and even once had some sort of rash episode that left me insanely itchy and blotchy for 24 painful hours. I would imagine even if none of these apply to you, this is an enjoyable glimpse into the life of a teen girl trying to make sense of an awful world with a dose of humor. It's my favorite book of the summer.


  1. i was reading a little of this at a bookstore the other day..looking forward to reading the whole thing soon. :)

  2. You had me at the nickname, KEEK is made of awesome! Thank you for sharing! I'm capitvated and the cover rocks!

  3. What a fantastic review, Arlaina. You mentioned a few of my favorite aspects of great books: fast pacing, introspection, heavy themes and relatability. I may gift it to my teenage niece. :)

    Stay well and keep writing!


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