book cover for And Then Things Fall Apart

Magan: And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

book cover for And Then Things Fall Apart

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Pages: 254
Release Date: July 6, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
How I heard about it: The pretty cover attracted me.

: Keek’s life does a complete 180 when she is diagnosed with the chicken pox (at 15?!), her dad is caught cheating on her mom, she has to move in with her grandmother, her boyfriend doesn’t check in to make sure she’s not dying, and her mom flees to California. Everything falls apart at the same time; what a great summer it’s going to be for Keek.

I was so hopeful that And Then Things Fall Apart was going to be a sweet, fun read. It sounded like Keek was going through a lot and I was ready to go all Jersey Shore with a fist pump in celebration of another contemporary young adult book. I wish I could say that And Then Things Fell Apart lived up to my expectations.

Keek was a whiny fifteen-year-old character. She complained about absolutely everything. In the beginning, I gave her a lot of leeway because I understood she was dealing with tons of drama (i.e. a cheating dad, a runaway mother, and the chicken pox). And let’s face it – some (if not most) fifteen-year-olds are self-centered and annoying. Keek thought her world was ending because she’d gotten the chicken pox and she was upset her boyfriend hadn’t called her. She was hallucinating because of the fevers and often didn’t make much sense. She repeated herself endlessly. I sometimes found myself skipping over bits of text because she was saying the. exact. same. thing. again.

Keek is obsessed with two things, both of which I didn’t understand one bit. She is crazy about Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar. She reads it constantly, references it multiple times on nearly every other page, and compares her situation to the characters. For someone who wasn’t familiar with the book, it was hard to care about that portion of the story. A lot of explaining was necessary to draw the parallel between Plath’s book and Keek’s life, but it didn’t really seem fitting when such an immature character was explaining the depths of Plath’s work.

Her second obsession: losing her virginity. I didn’t grasp why she “just wanted to get it over with.” This was where I felt most disconnected — Keek seemed so childish and young in many ways, but she was absorbed with Plath’s work and wanting to lose her virginity. Her actions and behavior didn’t convince me she was mature enough to understand or even begin to comprehend either of those two things. Her father had also just been outed for cheating on her mom; I didn’t believe someone in her position would treat something like their virginity so flippantly after finding out such devastating news.

The reader is very much inside Keek’s mind during the entire book. She’s solitary and alone because she’s sick, has few friends, and her boyfriend is MIA. Although I thought the concept for the book was fun, I found that there was only so much development that Tibensky could do with a sick character. She has rare conversations with her grandmother and she doesn’t communicate with her mom or dad. Due to the lack of dialogue, the story progressed slowly. I found it less believable that Keek would have matured in the ways that she did because she didn’t have anyone to guide her to a better understanding of all that was happening.

One of my least favorite parts of the book was the poetry. Keek is learning how to type and chooses to write poems. I didn’t feel like they blended into the story well. They didn’t add anything that gave me insight into Keek’s character and ultimately, I didn’t find they were necessary. I skipped over the poetry toward the end of the book because I felt like much of it became a filler.

Overall, I didn’t love And Then Things Fall Apart. I was on such a roll for great 2012 books, but this one didn’t cut it for me.

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8 thoughts on “Magan: And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

  1. Jamie says:

    I’ve seen this one around but really hadn’t heard too much about it or knew what it was really about.

    Now I’m more than a little nervous to read it for MANY of the reasons you stated but especially as someone who LOVES The Bell Jar from the DEPTHS OF MY SOUL. BUT it also makes me a little curious. AHHH. What to do? This was never HIGH on my TBR list so it might just stay where it is unless it magically appears say under my pillow from the book fairy.

    Sorry it didn’t work for you!

  2. Jess @ Gone with the Words says:

    DUDE! That SUCKS! I must admit that this one’s been on my wishlist since its release because of the pretty cover, but I think I’m taking it off. After reading your review I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy it. Thanks for honest review, Magan!!

  3. elena says:

    Aw, I’m sad this book didn’t work out for you because it has such a cute cover! Keek doesn’t sound like a character I would be too fond of and oh geez, I normally don’t like when characters write poems (or songs) in books. Thanks for your honest review!

  4. VeganYANerds says:

    I’m sorry that this was a disappointment, Mags! I only know about this because of the cover and it sounds like it was a jumble of weird, weak plot lines and an annoying character. Part of me still wants to read this, great review!

  5. Kristen Evey says:

    I love when you do find that gem of a book at the library that you weren’t looking for and don’t really know anything about. Sorry to hear this didn’t turn out to be that book. It does have such a great cover too!

  6. Broken Arrows says:

    I’m late to the party here, but just read this book and was seeking out reviews to see what others thought. I concur with everything this review states.

    Like some of the commenters, I was also drawn in by the cover but I also loved the title. What a great title! Shame the book doesn’t live up to it. I think much more could have been done with this basic premise.

    • Magan says:

      Broken Arrows, I’m so sad you felt the same way I did, but also a bit encouraged by that too. Sometimes I fear maybe I missed something that others loved. The cover was so gorgeous, but the book just didn’t live up to it. 🙁

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