Monday, February 2, 2015

WHEN EVERYTHING FEELS LIKE THE MOVIES by Raziel Reid Spectacular Spectacular!



RELEASE DATE: October 21st, 2014

FORMAT/PAGE COUNT: ebook/176 pages

PUBLISHER: Arsenal Pulp Press



School is just like a film set: there's The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn't fit in. He's not part of The Crew because he isn't about to do anything unless it's court-appointed; he's not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he's not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn't invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.

Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno, Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It's a total train wreck!

But train wrecks always make the front page.(FROM GOODREADS)

EXPECTATION: I had high hopes for this book as soon as I heard about it. I kept hearing about the GG and the Canada Reads selection...and it became even more intriguing to me. Then, when I heard about petitions to have the GG revoked and the CR selection rescinded, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would be good.


This is an extraordinary book. I loved the YA voice of the narrator. Remarkable. So authentic, perhaps the most authentic YA voice I have ever read. When Everything Feels Like the Movies is a beautiful tragedy filled with hope and longing. I loved this book. I know it's going to stay with me for a very long time. There were so many things I loved about this book, it's impossible to parse into a review. Jude/Judy is a tour-de-force of a character. From page one I wanted her to succeed in the movie of her life. Filled with unrivaled sarcastic wit, the whole thing was just a sheer delight to read. The grit and reality of the narrator's voice was flawless and fearless. A beautiful novel.

"Our principal, Mr. Callagher, was saying through the speaker that the school was throwing a Valentine's dance, and if anyone wanted to help organize it, they should come to the office and lunch and shove their finger up his ass."
"We'd made the back table ours ever since Angela slept with her second cousin and started keeping a list under the table. We always sat there because she always had a new name to add."
I read almost exclusively on my Kindle app on my smartphone now. I love how you can highlight passages and make notes. With this book, however, I stopped highlighting after about 1/4 of the book. Because I was highlighting everything. The two passages above, I believe, are greatly representative of the impeccable voice of the narrator. I try to read every book as a reader, but I have to admit I read this one almost exclusively as a writer. I was blown away by voice. Yes, it had a story too...a fantastic one...and I realize I haven't really touched on that yet. It's just that it's one of those books that makes me want to try harder as a writer, to cross the lines I shy away from.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies is essentially the story of a teen who is larger than the small town that could never truly contain them. What sets it aside from other stories about breaking out of the small and into the limelight is that the character who is struggling to be contained is trans. Jude (Judy) deals with bigotry at every turn...including at home. But she is still able to dream big and have such lofty glamorous goals for herself. Her almost vulgar egoism and arrogance is a delight. Where it should turn a reader off, it endears her to them. We see the raw vulnerability in her swaggering confidence and self-love. True sarcasm comes not from pride, but from the shaky ego that wants to emulate pride. Jude is such a flawlessly written flawed character. He will remain one of my favourite characters for a long time to come.

Highlights for me? The secretive relationship between Jude and his best friend's brother. And the way the reader can feel the scream of love caught in Jude's throat where his little brother is concerned. The author writes with such a subtle pen...never more so than when he paints the picture of Jude's feelings for his half-brother Keefer. Also, Jude's complicated relationship with his father. The longing in that relationship is so painful. With just a few strokes of his pen, Reid impeccably captured a struggling father/son relationship...with the perfect balance of want and need and outrage. I'm beginning to think the whole book was a highlight for me. Reid drew an amazingly accurate villain in Ray, Jude's stepfather, too. Here was a man who seemed afraid Jude's gayness might transfer to his own son simply through touch or proximity. Again, a flawless rendition of a character...and how Jude's mother repeatedly chose Ray over her own son was also amazingly captured.Yep...too many highlights to speak of.

Be careful what you read about this book. I've seen spoilers after having read it that would have ruined the ending for me. If you want to go into it blindly, try not to read up on it prior to cracking the spine. Even the author himself drops plot spoilers in interviews surrounding the origins of the story. Beware!

EXPECTATION:To be honest, the controversy surrounding this book was a big motivating factor in me deciding to read it. Firstly, it sounded like a wonderful story. Secondly, I have no time for writers who think it's their place to petition to have books stripped of awards they absolutely and definitively deserve. In fact, I was quite disgusted that anyone would try to rally and petition against this book. It met and exceeded my expectations. It has made me want to be a better writer. Naysayers should be ashamed of themselves. The green-eyed monster may have much to do with the bitter pills these petitioners are unable to swallow. I hope with everything I have that this book wins CANADA READS!

SIZE:5.5 It's just too big to fit into 5. Je Suis Jude!

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