Confessions of a Reader

'Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.' – Mason Cooley


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Book Review // Jane, The Fox & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

JaneTheFox&Me

Format: Hardcover
Published: 6th February 2014
Publisher: Walker Books UK
Pages: 104

This is a non-spoiler review. I’ve never reviewed a graphic novel before, I will do my best – although it will be a slightly shorter one than usual. Also, this is a part of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis:
Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies — Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Hélène identifies strongly with Jane’s tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to allow her to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship.

Leaving the outcasts’ tent one night, Hélène encounters a fox, a beautiful creature with whom she shares a moment of connection. But when Suzanne Lipsky frightens the fox away, insisting that it must be rabid, Hélène’s despair becomes even more pronounced: now she believes that only a diseased and dangerous creature would ever voluntarily approach her. But then a new girl joins the outcasts’ circle, Géraldine, who does not even appear to notice that she is in danger of becoming an outcast herself. And before long Hélène realizes that the less time she spends worrying about what the other girls say is wrong with her, the more able she is to believe that there is nothing wrong at all.

This emotionally honest and visually stunning graphic novel reveals the casual brutality of which children are capable, but also assures readers that redemption can be found through connecting with another, whether the other is a friend, a fictional character or even, amazingly, a fox.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this graphic novel through Mercedes over at MercysBookishMusings on YouTube. Whilst browsing at the library during the week I saw it and knew I had to borrow it – I’m glad I did.

Firstly, I loved the presentation of this novel. The book itself is gorgeous, extremely good quality. The idea of the story encompassing Jane Eyre also intrigued me, as I love the original.

The artwork is lovely. Part of it is drawn in black and white and the other part in vibrant colours. I will let you discover for yourselves what this symbolises.

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The story is wonderful. It is so touching, one of the most touching graphic novels I’ve read. It is a story about loneliness, friendship, bullying and ultimately hope. The story would be relatable to any reader, young or old.

StarRating5 out of 5 stars

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Book Review // All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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Format: Paperback
Published: 8th Jan 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 400

This is a non-spoiler review.

Synopsis:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

First Sentence:
Is today a good day to die?

My Thoughts:

I actually found this review quite difficult to write – for what reason I’m not sure. 

I wasn’t sure on this book at first, I picked it up a few weeks back and put it back down as I just wasn’t feeling it at the time. I wanted to try again as I’ve heard so much about it and actually borrowed it from the library and had already renewed it twice! I was so glad I finally read it!

The story is essentially very character driven. We follow Finch & Violet on their journey through life, and the discovery of themselves. I loved the build up of their relationship over time, they just clicked – even though they were so different from each other.

The novel is split into two narratives, Finch & Violet’s. I felt that this really helped me get to know them as individuals, yet displayed their love for one another perfectly. Their adventures and wanderings were charming – I throughly enjoyed reading about them – especially the mobile bookstore!

Jennifer Niven deals with two serious topics so well, I admired that she didn’t attempt to sugarcoat. The characters seemed real to me, their struggles genuine. Finch’s narrative was hard to read at times, it is a true reflection of his thoughts and ongoing battle with his mental state. After reading the Author’s Note it became clear that Niven had lost a loved one to suicide. Knowing this made me love this book even more, she had truly lived and breathed the situation. It must have been a difficult novel to write.

This book had me rooting for both characters, loving Finch’s quirks and Violet learning to live again. I knew it would break my heart, that there would be tears and sadness – I just didn’t know it would affect me as much as it did. I loved so many parts of this book – the love, the loss, the struggle, the fear, the strength and I would read it all over again.

I really want to pick up some more of Jennifer Niven’s books now – luckily there are a quite a few!

StarRating5 out of 5 stars

Website: jenniferniven.com
Twitter: @jenniferniven