And Then Things Fall Apart

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Karina, a.k.a. Keek, has led a swell life. She has had two loving and semi-cool parents. A best friend, Nic, whom she makes upcycled jewelry with while spilling her guts about everything and anything.  A constant companion in fictional character Esther Greenwood of The Bell Jar. And as of recently a wrestler boyfriend who isn’t like most jocks.

But life is anything but predictable. When she finds out  about her father’s adulterous affair her world suddenly crashes down upon her. Her parents are divorcing. She’s pushed best friend and partner in crafting, Nic, aside. She got in a huge fight with her boyfriend over, what else, her virginity. And now, as luck would have it, she has the freaking chicken pox.

Can it get any worse?

Yes, she’s stuck at her grandmother’s technology free home, under a one hundred pound -or what seems to be one hundred pounds – knit blanket. Keek spends her days reading The Bell Jar and typing away on an old typewriter her gram has stored away. Through her daily writing sessions, Keek slowly starts to heal from the inside out. But what happens when she finds out that her biggest problem of all, her parents divorce, wasn’t caused by her father’s affair? Can Keek, a mere fifteen year old, possibly survive this?

And Then Things Fall Apart written by debut author Arlaina Tibensky is a realistic read that will tug on reader’s heartstrings. An emotional roller coaster, readers will experience grieve alongside character Keek with an understanding mind and a sympathetic heart.

Tibensky’s writing is quick paced, relatable, and above all charming. Each sentence is strong, working towards the greater good of the overall story. And Then Things Fall Apart is exceptionally well realized. In fact, readers can instantly put themselves in Keek’s shoes, and know exactly what she’s doing, why she’s doing it, and even how it makes her feel.

Readers will gain a sense that she’s a one of a kind character. Full of wit and meaningful insights to, not just her own world, but the greater world around her. Avid readers will appreciate Keek’s love of books. And Plath fans will appreciate her love of Esther Greenwood.

And Then Things Fall Apart relies heavily on Sylvia Plath’s famed The Bell Jar. Normally I do not like, nor do I gravitate towards, books that pay homage to another (more famous) book.  I ultimately feel that relying on another story is just a cop-out, that the author cannot tell his/her own story without the help of another. But reality is, I didn’t feel this way about Tibensky’s impressive first novel. I felt that Keek’s reflections of Plath’s The Bell Jar really helped to, not only better the story, but also better the reader’s understanding of Keek’s frame of mind.

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