Thursday, 21 April 2016

Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers

Description from Goodreads

In the tiny podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, high school geeks Lula and Rory share everything—a love for sci-fi, resentment toward the parents that abandoned them, and Friday night binge-watching of old X-Files episodes. But when Lula discovers that Rory has been secretly sleeping with his creepy middle-aged boss—she disappears on a journey to find her long-lost actress mother in New York. When she returns, nothing is the same, and she is forced to make amends or risk repeating the mistakes of the generation that caused the two friends so much pain. Meagan Brother’s piercing prose speaks to those who have ever felt unwanted and alone, and who struggle to find their place in a world that seems to reject them. 

(Personally, I don't think the synopsis entails very well what the book is really about, but I don't want to write my own either because I'm afraid I will spoil some of the events which might be best to experience first-hand.)

I have to say right away that I have very mixed feelings about Weird Girl and What's His Name. While I really enjoyed the occasional philosophical thoughts and all the science fiction references, there was just something about the novel that I couldn't really come in terms with. Maybe it was because the book is divided into two different sections: Rory's point of view, and Lula's point of view. While Rory was an okay character me, I liked Lula better, even though at times I didn't really care for either one of them.

While I liked Rory okay, I wasn't really able to identify with him as well as I was able to with Lula. Even though personality-wise I'm a lot more like Rory than Lula, the problems Lula was facing were a lot more relatable: am I the only one who feels alone in the world? Is there someone out there for me who will accept me as I am, unconditionally? Where is my place in the world? Are romantic and platonic forms of love equal? Even though Rory did think about these as well, somehow the way Lula dealt with these problems made me more aware of them. The big themes reflected upon in the novel are what probably all of us ponder on at some point in our lives, but these are thoughts that I've myself personally thought about recently, as I'm currently in a transition into the next stage in my life. Lula's experiences made so much sense to me, and that was probably why liked Lula so much.

I have to admit though, that the writing wasn't exactly my favourite part in the beginning. At times it felt a bit awkward with so many punctuation marks, strange time jumps, and the confusing story telling from time to time. However, the more the plot progressed, the more fluent the writing became. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I associated the best part of the book with Lula, so I became to like the writing as the events were more to my liking. Towards the end, Brothers is able to insert some of the most wonderful thoughts in the book, despite the weak start. There was this moment in which Lula talks about the importance of The X-Files in relation to her relationship with Rory. How the TV show becomes a medium for their emotions and thoughts that allow them to discuss about matters which just cannot be expressed with everyday words. When I read that passage, I felt immediate connection with her as I totally understood what she meant. I'm that kind of person too! I also use novels and TV shows to bond with people. 

The references of The X-Files and Lord of the Ring were always well-placed and funny, and I found myself sniggering or nodding to them. The fact that Rory and Lula were such a fanboy and fangirl, was definitely one my favourite parts of the book. I tend to be a bit of fangirl myself, and I loved how their fondness for science fiction wasn't played down. The things that we love do define us as persons, at least to some extent. I'm not as dedicated fan of The X-Files as the characters were, but I have my own shows that I stand by forever: Supernatural, The Walking Dead,  Fringe, Hannibal, Game of Thrones, so I 101% understand the reruns, the blogs, the discussions, the makeovers. Our 'obsessions' can become the salt of  our lives when we become so emotionally invested in them. 

I found writing the review for Weird Girl and What's His Name very difficult. While the book was a good read, and I enjoyed it more and more as it progressed, but I was a bit disappointed as it wasn't as original as I first imagined it would be. The philosophical nature of the book took me by a surprise (in a good way) and I wished had been more of that. Those precious gem moments in which the author becomes reflective of the important things in our lives were the golden core of the whole novel. 

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