Monday, June 18, 2012

My Life In Black And White by Natasha Friend (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Drama
Publication.Date  June 28th 2012
Published By:  Viking Juvenile | 
WebsiteNatasha Friend 

My Life In Black And White - Goodreads
My review copy:Received from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?

Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi's face goes through a windshield. Now she's not sure what's worse: the scars she'll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she's much more than just a pretty face.(Goodreads)

"Listen to me", Ruthie said firmly. "You are not an idiot. Anyone in that situation... I might have done the same thing."
Right. Like "the smart one" would ever go to a party to begin with, let alone hop into a car with the captain of the football team. I remember her saying once, "I don't get adolescent social rituals."
FUN HOUSE MIRROR. That's what I thought when I saw myself. No way can this be real. No way in hell. Fun house mirror.
"Okay," I said, matching my sister's solemn tone. "I won't let my face define me. I'll let my butt define me. Oh, wait. My butt is my face."
For a second, I imagined the two of us walking into high school together, with our new haircuts and killer attitudes. Benny and Brandy, the Mayer sisters: a force to be reckoned with.
For a second, I let myself believe it.

     My Life in Black and White was very interesting and extremely readable. I went into reading it not knowing what it was about and was pleasantly surprised by both the poignant premise and the well drawn characters. This book invoked so many emotions in me! With thought-provoking plot, characters that shine with authenticity, intelligent dialogues and intensely emotional massage it carries, My Life in Black and White proved to be a very moving and rewarding read

"You think you're the only one?" Theo said. "Everyone has scars. We just don't all wear them on the outside."

     The plot of this novel was not only entertaining and captivating, but also meaningful. Lexi used to be one of the most beautiful girls at school. She had a sweet life, a gorgeous boyfriend, many friends and admirers, and good prospects for the future. Confident, lively, and flawless, she practically built her life around her good looks. And that proved to be a big mistake. Her idyllic life was shattered to pieces when - shortly after catching her boyfriend cheating on her - she ended up in a car crash, disfiguring her gorgeous face forever. So what do you do when you lose the one thing you valued the most? The one thing that you thought defined your whole existence? Where do you go from there? 

"I know that sounds stupid," I said, glancing away, "but I feel like I've lost everything... Like, Taylor used to be my best friend and Ryan used to be my boyfriend, and now they're not... and I used to be beautiful." I wanted to disappear after I said that. "I mean - not that I went around thinking that or anything, it's just how other people defined me, my whole life. Alexa Mayer us beautiful. And now..." I forced myself to finish. "I don't know how to act. I don't know how to dress. I don't know... how to be."

     I did not expect to connect with Lexi. At all. Truth be told, I usually end up hating characters that are seemingly vain and shallow, and I believed Alexa to be just that kind of character. Fortunately, she proved me wrong. That's not to say that she wasn't focusing too much on her physical appearance, because she was, to the point that when the accident happened, her whole life shifted. At the same time, though, she didn't rely on her pretty face and flawless figure because of her vanity, she was simply brought up this way by her mother. It's her mother who pressured her into being perfect, moulded her, planned her future to the very last detail. And her difficult mother-daughter arrangement was no less bitter to read about than the consequences of the car crash themselves. I did end up liking Lexi quite a lot. I really appreciated the transformation she underwent and was very satisfied with how her story ended - or should I say: how her story begun. I also loved the side-kicks, especially Ruthie (the geektastic sister) and Theo (the swoon-impersonated) - they rocked my world. Ruthie was the perfect voice of reason and Theo was the ultimate knight on a white horse in disguise. 

"Squirting people with butter, Alexa, is not how I raised you to behave. There are other ways to express your frustration. More socially acceptable ways."

     Overall, I can say that this book has won me over. Natasha Friend writes with incredible sensitivity and lucidity. Her words speak right to your heart, inviting you to lose yourself in the story. The narrative voice is real and convincing, and so are the dialogues. I liked how light and full of humour the story was, in spite of its serious premise. All the funny moments and witty remarks perfectly balanced the insecurity and frustration that Alexa was radiating. 

     I don't think there was a single thing I didn't like about this book. The truth is, this was really a great story. In fact, it was even deeper and more harrowing than I expected it to be. Despite its heavy subject matter, I found this novel to be very entertaining and fun to read. I loved that, although it does get dark at times, and you do witness the character's emotional fallout, it also ends on a hopeful note, teaching you a very valuable life lesson: you can't let the physical beauty define who you are as a person.

This review is posted as part of the Contemporary Fiction Month feature!

Click on the picture for full schedule.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Rebecca said...

This sounds like such a fantastic read and I'm even more convinced after your amazing review! I would order myself a copy but I must first read some of the books of my shelf! Must.Resist.Buying! :)

Amy said...

It sounds like an amazing book with a great message. I really love when a book that tackles some darker issues is still able to be entertaining and fun too. It really helps balance out the emotional aspect. Thanks for the great review.

fakesteph said...

I'm so glad you loved this one! I want to read it so bad!

roro said...

sounds really emotional
tnx4 the review
the cover is so different

Lexie said...

This sounds like a very moving novel. I was a bit iffy on the premise, because it seemed like it could swing either way, but it sounds really, really beautiful. I definitely intend to check this out. Wonderful review.

Jaime Lester said...

This sounds like a great read and your review makes it even more endearing. I must admit that this probably wouldn't be a book that I would pick up on my own, without any prompting. Thanks for posting about My Life in Black and White, and hopefully opening my mind up to a great read!

Sierra Abrams said...

This sounds really really really REALLY good!! WOW!! I'm definitely intrigued and excited to read it! :D

Great review - I'm fascinated by what you said about the MC's vanity and her relationship with her mom.

Sierra @ Yearning to Read

Michelle Chew said...

This sounds awesome! Totally! Now there's one more book on my buying list! Thanks for sharing a little on the characters. That's what attracted me. :)


Bonnie said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one Evie I always love to hear your thoughts, and based on what you are saying I think I will like this one quite a bit! It was actually one of my WOW picks recently and I'm really looking forward to reading it. There is just something about the premise that draws me in.

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