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Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Since we seem to have ended up discussing Feeling Sorry for Celia in the comments of my previous post, I figure I'll go ahead and post my thoughts (even if it ends up passing a few books in my review queue)

Feeling Sorry for Celia is Moriarty's first novel, and takes the same epistolary form as the other two.* While I loved The Year of Secret Assignments, I was secretly afraid that Celia would be exactly the same, especially since one of the main plot-points is the same letter exchange between neighboring high schools. And yet, Celia is completely and wonderfully original.

Contrary to what one might expect, Celia is not actually the main character of the novel. Instead, our heroine is Elizabeth, Celia's best friend. When the novel begins, Celia has disappeared. Again. (It eventually comes out that she has joined the circus). Elizabeth, feeling a bit lost without her best friend, begins corresponding (per English class assignment) with Christina, a student at the neighboring public high school.

Interspersed between the letters of the two pen-pals, we see notes from Elizabeth's mother, and assorted imaginary letters from groups such as the "Cold Hard Truth" association and the "Association of Teenagers" (these letters usually explain to Elizabeth that she is failing at being a teenager). These random notes confused me (and creeped me out a bit) at first, but once I understood that they were imaginary, they added to the charm of the novel.

This is a wonderfully light-hearted novel about friendship and growing up, and I definitely recommend it for readers who loved Moriarty's other novels, or for readers of Sarah Dessen (who might want something a little more light-hearted), or perhaps even readers of Meg Cabot (who want to make the move to novels with a little more substance).

Now, my question for readers: the library system where I work has this shelved (and cataloged) as Adult Fiction. I know it was probably marketed this way when it first came out, but I really think it belongs in YA. Besides the fact that it is a novel about teenagers and high school, there's the fact that it's set in the same universe as Moriarty's later novels, and really ought to be sitting next to them on the shelf. Problem is, I need to prove this to the "higher powers." Help me make the argument??

*She has actually published one more novel, I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes that was only published in Australia, but I believe it is being published here in the fall under the title The Spell Book of Listen Taylor. Well sort of... according to Moriarty's blog, it is a revised version.


TadMack said...

Man, it must be harder to change things if you're a librarian. I constantly run across things that I feel are wrongly categorized, and I simply leave a note and reasons why I think it's in the wrong spot. Feeling Sorry for Celia is most definitely a YA novel, and I can't imagine it being of interest to those looking for an adult novel (unless they are YA aficionados). Doesn't a YA protagonist count anymore?

Nicole said...

Hi Sara! I read about your blog on the FSU discussion board- I'm the other WM grad, Nicole. I just finished this book and I loved it! I couldn't put it down for more than a few minutes and it led to lots of awkward multitasking. Thanks for the great recommendation! Im looking forward to reading The Year of Secret Assignments and I really enjoy reading your blog!

Sara said...

Tadmack -- see the problem is that I'm not actually a librarian (yet!), so I'm too far down the library food chain to just change whatever I want. I also found Altebrando's The Pursuit of Happiness in the adult section. (which is absolutely ridiculous -- it's MTV press for goodness sakes!).

Nicole, HI!!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the novel!! I'm always a little afraid that someone is going to hate my recommendations and never listen to me again ;). And thanks for stopping by my blog -- I'm a little afraid that I won't have time for it when we start classes in the fall, but we'll see. (I replied to you on the FSU board too, but have you decided which classes you're taking?)

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