Monday, October 19, 2009

Review: My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman


Tags: YA, GLBTQ, sexual identity and labeling, theatre, siblings

Rating: 3 out of 5


Summary

Sisters Roz and Eva used to be close, until cheerleading, competition over school theater roles, and boys drove them apart. Now, however, Roz believes she has a chance to win Eva back: some evidence supports Roz’s hypothesis that Eva is a lesbian who has trouble admitting it, even to herself. In an attempt to make Eva more comfortable with coming out, Roz declares herself a lesbian, right as the drama club begins rehearsing for a Shakespearean play.

Little does Roz realize the consequences that would result from her announcement. As she and her friends/fellow drama geeks exchange insults and pranks, Roz realizes that the application of “labels” is more complicated than she thought, and she may be quite blind to the workings of the human heart.

Review

MY INVENTED LIFE is a spunky and witty GLBTQ book that deals with the fluidity of sexual identity, and the complexities of placing labels on people. The fantastic narrative voice and the unique premise will make this a delightful read for nearly anyone.

This book’s strongest point is its protagonist. Roz is a feisty girl with a good blend of sass, passion, and self-delusions. Her witty, laugh-out-loud narration—always direct, never dully over-eloquent—will draw you into the story even if you may cringe at some of her behavior and want to shake some insight into her. For the most part, the secondary characters are also well-drawn: they’re people with endearing quirks, people who you’d like to hang out with. They’re complicated and funny, occasionally bitchy and selfish. In other words, they could’ve been our high school friends.

Because MY INVENTED LIFE is so energetic and fast-paced, it occasionally runs the risk of getting annoying. Every once in a while I felt like I had gotten too much of Roz’s snarky mentality, and her secret desires—her invented life—sometimes gets repetitive, in an “okay we get it already” way. Similarly, I had trouble understand the sisterly dynamic between Roz and Eva. Sibling relationships are especially difficult to write about, since they contain the requisite family love as well as voluntary platonic devotion, and I felt that Roz and Eva’s relationship—particularly Roz’s almost grovel-like approach to her sister—pinged around in all directions in a way that jarred me and made me the slightest bit skeptical of the believability of their relationship.

That being said, MY INVENTED LIFE is a fresh approach to homosexuality. In this story, the characters’ sexual orientations are rather fluid, defying categorization. You can never completely say that this one’s a lesbian, that one’s totally gay, and so on and so forth. This is admirable because labels regarding sexual orientation are hardly ever direct in real life: there is a huge amount of gray area between heterosexuality and homosexuality, an area that many people unknowingly dwell in. I thought that MY INVENTED LIFE did an exceptional job of capturing the complexities of labels; readers will think twice about when it means to assign people to strict categories.

All in all, readers can take MY INVENTED LIFE at two levels. It can be read as a witty romp through the intertwined lives of theater geeks, or one can consider the usage and flexibility of homosexuality in the story. Either way, it makes for a satisfying read without being offensive to any kind of readers.

Similar Authors
Kirstin Cronn-Mills (The Sky Always Hears Me, and the Hills Don't Mind)
Dale Peck (Sprout)

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5


Cover discussion: 2 out of 5 - I'm not too keen on it. It's a closeup of two rather scary-looking girls with disturbing expressions on their faces, along with a title font that doesn't match what I believe is Roz's personality. Oh well. Hopefully others will be able to look beyond the cover for a truly good read.

Henry Holt & Co. / Sept. 29, 2009 / Hardcover / $17.99

Thank you so much, Lauren, for offering me your book for review!

27 comments:

  1. Great review! Overall, it sounds like a good read, and I think the subject of sexuality labels is an important one. Plus, it sounds lighter than I expected it. I'll be reading this one!

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  2. This is a fantastic review of this book. I feel like I really know what I'm going to be getting myself into.
    I kind of like it when books ut me through the "okay, we get it already" phase.
    Roz sort of sounds like a narrator I will quite like.

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  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this cover. One of my favorites actually.

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  4. Interesting review! I've been wanting to read this, but wasn't sure exactly what the LBGT angle was, so thanks for clearing that up. I am slightly wary of hugely fast paced books, but I like the sound of this overall. Also, the message sounds great.

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  5. Nice review. I look forward t reading this. I actually enjoy the cover quite a bit. I think it's very eyecatching. :)

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  6. Woah, this may be more lovely to me than I expected. Thanks for the review Steph!

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  7. Great review. You do a really good job.

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  8. I just love to read your reviews. I can't wait to check this book out!

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  9. This sounds good. I always like to see what motives an author gives characters when the stories based around homosexuality.

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  10. This book doesn't really appeal to me, but great review. I might give it a try sometime, especially after reading that the sexuality labels aren't clearly defined.

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  11. It looks interesting dont know if i will read it though

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. I believe you're the first reviewer I've read that made the sexuality in this book clear. It seemed to only be hinted at in others. Thanks for that!

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  14. I have heard a lot about this book and I definitely want to read it

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  15. As someone who's a recent follower I'm really enjoying your reviews. Not sure if I'd read this book, but your reviews are great to read. Thanks!

    -Lisa

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  16. This book looks so good its been on my to-read list for awhile now. Thanks for your review, I appreciate the honesty.

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  17. Yet another book I keep coming across on blogs. And yet another book to add to the to buy list. My wallet can't take the pressure!

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  18. Great review. I've seen this book around but havent had the chance to read it yet.

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  19. Thats cool. I don't see many YA books that get into homosexuality.

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  20. This book sounds interesting, I haven't read on like it, so I will have to check it out.

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  21. Wow...I feel like an idiot. I had NO idea what this book was about. Well, let me rephrase that. Compared to the hype I've seen about this book, it wasn't what I thought it was.

    I didn't know it was about homosexuality..hm. I almost bought this, but I'm not sure. I still want to read it because overall it has a good rating but I'm not sure..

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  22. The cover is acually intriguing to me. Kind of reminds me of another book cover. I don't see much books about the major topic of this book.

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  23. I'm really interest in books that deal with GLBTQ, I actually had no idea that this book dealt with it. I liked your review!

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  24. I liked the review, but it's not my type of book.

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  25. Homosexuality is definitely a topic that shouldn't be taken too lightly, or perhaps too seriously either. I think it's interesting that you said it won't really offend readers. I might read this book to see how the author handles this issue as well. Thanks for the review. :)

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Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!

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