On 26 July, 2011, Arlaina Tibensky's novel And Then Things Fall Apart was published. A working title of the book was "Bell Jar Summer," and you may remember that I mentioned it in a blog post back in the summer of 2010.
My deepest apologies to her and the books potential readers, through this blog, for failing to publicize the novel before now. And Then Things Fall Apart is the summer story of Keek as she goes through some terrible trials of not only adolescence, but of life. Parents divorcing, chicken pox, fight with boyfriend, not on speaking terms with best friends, and to top it off, she's left to stay with her grandmother, who might just be a Luddite. What does she did to get by? She reads and discusses Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar and types her own story on a typewriter.
It's a very good story, well written and engaging, and the characters are drawn in a way which enables us to sympathize with them (even though from time to time I think Keek would benefit from a hard slap across the face; her father too, the bastard). Keek reminds me a lot of how I picture, perhaps, what Esther Greenwood's grandchildren might be like. There are a lot of similarities between what Keek was going through and to what her idol, Esther Greenwood, experiences. I think this shows a universality in what writers like Salinger and Plath were able to do through their writings and what their writings subsequently did for their respective generations. This goes to show that no matter the technological advances, kids are still kids and thank goodness those teenage years evaporate.
You can read more about the novel, Arlaina, and the writing process at her blog.
I certainly recommend Tibensky’s book and it has received favorable press in Publishers Weekly, MediaBistro, and the Examiner, among others.