Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Review: manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen
Sometimes the most dramatic scenes in a high school theater club are the ones that happen between the actors and crew off stage.
Seventeen-year-old Tyler Darcy's dream of being a writer is starting to feel very real now that he's sold his first short story to a literary journal. He should be celebrating its publication with his two best friends who've always had his back, but on this night, a steady stream of texts from his girlfriend Sidney keep intruding. So do the memories of his dream girl, Becky, who's been on his mind a little too much since the first day of high school. Before the night is over, Ty might just find the nerve to stop all the obsessing and finally take action. ~ Goodreads
Tom Leveen's debut YA novel, Party, is one of my favorite books but manicpixiedreamgirl just landed him on my auto buy author list.
If you haven't read anything by Tom Leveen yet, you're in for a treat. His stories and characters are raw, imperfect, real and relatable. Life is messy and we don't always get neat tidy endings and Leveen's writing reflects that.
Tyler falls hard for Rebecca Webb from the moment he first sees her sitting alone in the cafeteria. She has an edgy hairstyle, a tattoo, sorts her animal crackers into piles of broken and unbroken and has that alluring yet aloof quality. No one talks to Becky and that just makes 15 year old Tyler want to break down those walls to know the *real* Becky Webb.
And this is the main theme for manicpixiedreamgirl. The title for the book was based on this article and the articles author, Nathan Rabin's, coining of the phrase. His definition: "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures." (Fun follow up article with actresses that exemplify the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in film)
How many of us has built up a fantasy in our mind, especially in high school, of the person we dream of being with? What happens when you actually talk to that person? Can they possibly live up to our expectations for them?
As an aspiring writer, Tyler has featured Becky in many of his stories. She's always a star, always shining impossibly bright. He cast himself as her knight in shining armor. He’s suave (& with rock hard abs) saying the perfect thing that makes her melt and ride off with him on his white horse into the sunset.
The reality…he can't even work up the nerve to do more than covertly spy on her and make sure he's in the right place to walk by her in the hall every day. He befriends Sydney, a girl who knows Becky, just to get some intel. As time passes he falls into a relationship with Sydney but Becky is always on his mind.
Then after years of pining the unthinkable happens. He becomes friends with Becky and Tyler's neat little life starts spiraling out of control.
manicpixiedreamgirl is told in alternating present tense and flashbacks. The transitions are so smooth and blend perfectly together that I was completely lost to the story as dreams and reality collide.
Tyler is surrounded by a great cast of characters. His two best friends always back him up but aren't afraid to call it like they see it either. He also has a supportive family and I appreciated seeing a healthy brother/sister relationship for once. Becky is fascinating as the object of Tyler's affections. She finds herself wanting to be the girl that he sees her as. She's had a rough life and my heart broke for her.
The person who really intrigued me the most though is Tyler's girlfriend Sydney. Leveen didn't make her the typical jealous girlfriend or the uptight shrew to Becky's free spirit. Sydney is smart, confident and bold. She knows the score when it comes to Tyler's feelings about Becky. Yet she sticks around hoping he'll snap out of it but not in a needy, clingy way. She's good for Tyler and he does care about her. It just made me wonder if Tyler is Sydney's male version of a manicpixiedreamgirl - the aloof-artist-dreamer-boy, with her always playing second fiddle to his muse. Was she seeing Tyler as he could be but not as he was - like he was doing with Becky?
Sorry….I got off track there lol But the book really had me thinking about how high school relationships shape your future and what kind of person you decide that you want to be as an adult. It's such an awkward time when feelings are x's 1000! You can take chances, make mistakes, stumble and hopefully find your way out of it and learn from the experiences.
Final thoughts: I don't know what else to say. I loved this book. manicpixiedreamgirl shows the hope, despair, love, heartbreak and awkwardness of high school. It transported me back to those years and often made me cringe as I saw myself reflected in Tyler. If you're looking for perfect characters who do everything right - don't look here, occasionally you will want to shake Tyler. But if you want a funny, messy, poignant character driven story then I highly recommend manicpixiedreamgrl.
Author: Website | Twitter
Source: ARC provided by the author via Netgalley for my honest review
Buy the book! Release date: April 23, 2013 Amazon | Indie Bound