Last month I stumbled upon the fabulous, the funny, the clever Jaclyn Moriarty in her latest novel The Ghosts of Ashbury High and have been on the hunt for her other books ever since. Simply put: I love this woman's books to bits. Getting my hands on Feeling Sorry for Celia couldn't have made my day brighter.
*A side note, although all four books take place at Ashbury High, it is not necessary to read them in order. They are loosely connected and I would recommend you at least read The Year of Secret Assignments before The Ghosts of Ashbury High, but it's not strictly necessary. As for me, I read them all out of sequence (highly unusual for someone so bookishly OCD as myself) and still loved each one.
As the title suggests, Elizabeth Clarry is truly worried about her best friend Celia. The pair have been inseparable ever since they were tiny but lately Celia has been acting strange - even for the unpredictable Celia. She's run away (again) and Elizabeth doesn't know who to confess her fears to: not her mom, who stays busy with work and only communicates with Elizabeth through post-its on the fridge (albeit hilarious post-its); not her father who has suddenly reappeared in her life and who would like nothing more than to take her to fancy restaurants and talk about fancy wine (ugh); and not Celia's mom, who can only think of Celia's habit of escaping as a beautiful form of youthful expression.
It's not until Mr. Botherit, Elizabeth's brilliant English teacher, sponsors a letter writing project called "The Joy of the Envelope" between his students and the local public school that Elizabeth finds herself detailing her worries to a complete and utter stranger, Christina. Beginning somewhat hesitantly, Elizabeth and Christina slowly forge an unusual friendship solely based on the written word yet one that expands to help each other through a multitude of joys and heartaches.
Frequently, their letters are interrupted by missives to Elizabeth from The Association of Teenagers, The Best Friends Club, THE COLD HARD TRUTH ASSOCIATION, and The Society of High School Runners Who Aren't Very Good at Long-Distance Running but Would Be if They Just Trained. With the subtly of a sledgehammer, these witty letters add humor and levity to the constant niggle of teenage self-doubt ever present in the girls' letters.
I'll say it again: Jaclyn Moriarty's books are made of win. I love that they written completely as letters. I love that even while they manage to be laugh-out-loud funny, they still capture all the heartbreak and all the turmoil inherent in the ever-changing landscape of teenage friendships. Elizabeth's voice comes across so fluidly in Feeling Sorry for Celia. I felt myself responding to every poignant or exultant letter in kind. Love, love these books.
Other Ashbury High novels (not necessary to read in order)
~ Feeling Sorry for Celia
~ The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie (Becoming Bindy MacKenzie or The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie)
~ The Year of Secret Assignments (Finding Cassie Crazy)
~ The Ghosts of Ashbury High (Dreaming of Amelia) - my review
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
21 Pages review
The Bookette review
Bookshelves of Doom review
book source: my local library