Monday, July 2, 2012

The Monotones of Life

My Life in Black & White
By: Natasha Friend
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via Tour
Release date: June 28th, 2012 from Viking/Penguin

What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?

Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi's face goes through a windshield. Now she's not sure what's worse: the scars she'll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she's much more than just a pretty face.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's||Amazon||Barnes&Noble||Book Depository

My Life in Black and White is like a vulture, circling over the question of "what if you lost the one thing that defined you?", and as it dived down you could see suddenly not just the question as the prey but the question as a predator.

It is much too easy to fall into the traps of judgment, especially in this generation where the internet has draped over us like a blanket we can't shake off. The media, peers, family; co-workers, friends, celebrities; everything and everyone influence what and who we are. We are no longer beautiful and smart, we are simply beautiful. We are not athletic and kind, we are only athletic. Beauty and popularity win out over passion and intelligence; there is no longer a diversity of people but a wide variety of us struggling to fit in one category, as if venturing into another definition is akin to stepping in acid.

Questions of identity haunt us. At the start of this book, I despised Lexi, was so tired of her that I wanted her to just shut the frak up. She thought her "nerdy band" sister as a "freak," which I found personally insulting. But because it's fiction and it's best to enjoy a book with your prejudices buried behind, I flipped on through the pages and soon found myself captivated and sucked in by the complete and arduous transformation of Lexi as a character. Often in these transformation books, I find the character to change too fast, too unrealistically. But Lexi still whined and complained and even when she changed, she still did, once in a while, but that's understandable because all of us do it. Eventually she won me over as not just a character but also a friend, and that in itself is a great feat Natasha has done.

The only thing that bothered me slightly about this book, despite its challenging beginning, was that it never truly dealt with the question "what if you lost the one thing that defined you?". It's not that it didn't address it; the whole book circles around that questions like a boxer (*coughs* <-- you'll get it if you read the book). The thing though, is that Lexi never truly strayed from being beautiful. She was still "95% beautiful," according to one of the book's characters. I'm not saying that she can't be beautiful to transform as a character; I'm just saying that she completely lost it as if her entire body is ruined, but it was only her face. Okay, I know it sucks and this makes me sound completely unsympathetic, but I'm just saying she was a bit too stuck-up about it and selfish that it really grinded on my nerves.

Anyhow: My Life in Black and White is not a bad book. It's actually very, very good. But I wouldn't use it as a model to mold your life after; even though Lexi has changed, the path she traveled to reach that point is rocky at best.
The Reviews News

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