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The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door Hardcover – February 21, 2013
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Before, Celia had a friend. She had parents living together in the same house. She had not yet been publicly humiliated by vacuous Sandy Firestone. By the time she turns 14, however, her friend is gone, her parents are on a “trial separation,” and the terrible memory of Sandy’s prank burns in Celia’s heart. Her transformation into an angry, vengeful spirit is complete by the time she walks through the doors of Hershey High School, but her gloom is unexpectedly disrupted by the surprising friendship of Drake, a gorgeous new student. Celia is smitten, and the teens grow close enough for Drake to reveal his biggest secret, which breaks Celia’s heart. Increasingly, her poems are her solace, and Celia’s true vitality emerges in her love of language. Suggest this to fans of David Levithan’s and A. S. King’s books, as well as all teens who feel outside the frenzy of high-school social life. Grades 8-10, --Diane Colson
"Karen Finneyfrock is an amazing poet so it is no surprise that her first novel is poetic. It is also hilarious, exciting and as painful as anybody's teenage years. Read it, please."
—Sherman Alexie, National Book Award-Winning author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — Sherman Alexie, National Book Award-Winning author
“I loved The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door! Celia is a quirky and unique character whose journey—through friendship and secrets and chocolate—will stay with readers long after they close the book.”
—Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Grey — Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray
Praise for The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock:
“Finneyfrock gives Celia a drily funny voice that keeps the narrative zipping along.” —Publishers Weekly
“Revenge may be sweet, but the joys of friendship and following your own star prove even sweeter in this engaging…novel about a creative, rebellious youngster.” —Kirkus
"[Celia Door is] a memorable outsider who is articulate, funny, and brave." —School Library Journal
"Suggest this to fans of David Levithan’s and A. S. King’s books, as well as all teens who feel outside the frenzy of high-school social life." —Booklist
"...well-written, engaging, and ultimately hopeful..." —VOYA
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It's been a long time since a character spoke to me the way that Celia Door did. It's been even longer since a book has touched me in the manner the Sweet Revenge of Celia Door did. When I first began reading it, I expected some fluffy paranormal type book, with the darkness being demonic or woowoo. Glad I was wrong. Glad I got more than I bargained for.
Betrayal, the proverbial stake through the heart. We've all been there, in that Brutus moment in time: unrepentantly screwed over when one didn't see it coming. We've all had to pick up the pieces, to figure out how to live after the fact, how to live after the hurt factor was executed. We all try to be strong enough to bravely reach inside the wound, pull out the offending weapon, calmly toss it aside, and to walk away unscarred; with a bored expression and a flip of the hair. We all aspire to be dark like Celia, (darkness, an adjective describing a state of being in which one doesn't care about what others think of him or her, or when one acts out by purposely stepping outside of the norm to prove a point). However, it's not easy being dark when the sting of betrayal is fresh; no matter how much we hope it to be. You see, betrayal attacks that fragile, human part of us known as the soul, sickening our hearts and mind with hatred and rancor. Like Celia, some of us may reach the point, where we'd consider finding a shadowy place to stab our opponent, we may even find ourselves fantasizing about ways to get even, consequences be damned. We seek revenge for its supposed sweetness, even when we're still healing, seeping blood, and struggling to keep our various bits of guts and innards in place, for it is perfectly human to be angry when one is unjustly victimized. It's natural even.
Celia's so-called darkness was what caught my attention about the Sweet Revenge of Celia Door. When I read the blurb on Goodreads, it was like déjà vu. It was as if someone went digging in my mind and expertly pulled out bits and pieces of me and found a way to fit them all together, rough edges and all. One can be hurt time and time again, but one act of unkindness might supersede the bunch. Bad apples are often that way.
From the blurb..."That's the day the trouble started.
The trouble that nearly ruined my life.
The trouble that turned me Dark.
The trouble that begs me for revenge." There is something so relatable and honest about that passage.
I don't want to say too much, but The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door is brilliant. Although the plot primarily focuses on Celia's scheme for revenge against the vicious Sandy Firestone, it also touches on deeper issues such as bullying and divorce. Young readers finding themselves will commiserate with Celia's efforts to fit in highschool, (aka the place when people are sometimes mean just because); they might even pick up a tip or two from Celia via her poetry notebook about writing and life. Older readers might find themselves reflecting on their childhood the way that I did while reading, and might chuckle a time or two about how they too thought themselves misunderstood by adults at fourteen.
The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door has splotches of genius that will appeal to everyone. Karen's writing is astounding. Not only does she make us question ourselves, but she also gives us a morality check. Is it wrong to seek justice when someone hurt you first? How far is too far?
Throughout Celia's story, Karen sprinkles the pages with savvy literary tid-bits, making Celia sound wise beyond her years., Celia's witty remarks and satirical lists such as her list of never words, add humor to what might potentially be an emotionally turbulent book.
Celia's asinine nature and Drake's depth coalesce to form an unforgettable friendship. When Drake was introduced I thought to myself, "oh no, he is gonna turn out to be a villainous..." It was great to discover how mistaken I was. Drake is the bff we all should hope to have or to be. He is loyal and understanding, and has a capacity to love beyond anything I've ever read. His love is pure and simple, and his ability to forgive can surely teach us all a thing or two. I love my men with compassion! although I was rooting for him, I found myself being a "dream basher", the way that Celia was being in the beginning. I suppose it's what happens when one becomes jaded, but it's not right to rain on parades even if our ententions are good. Some lessons aren't for us to teach.
Overall, the Sweet Revenge of Celia Door surpassed all my expectations. While there weren't supernatural elements as is my normal fair, I still had a grandiose time reading, laughing out loud in most instances and crying in some portions, (see Hershey pass incident.) People of all ages and demographics will find much to admire in Celia as she struggles with revenge, right and wrong, and friendship. Watching her cope with the abrupt loss of her childhood and of being at the cusp of change is beautifully and eloquently done. Celia's story has the potential to be a classic. If word reaches the right audience, I truly feel that it can become the Because of Winn Dixie and the Ramona and beezs of 2013.One never knows. Maybe I'll get that sequel I'm craving, or perhaps a book about Celia's colege aged quirky cousin Dorathea? Please?
This book catapulted me back to my teenage years and blatantly reminded me of the hardships that most teens face, hardships which many adults are so unfortunately dismissive of. It was also a reminder that our adult lives are not so different than high school -- the alienation of work cliques, the desire to belong, the despair of a world which seems to be conspiring against you.
The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door deals with the hard topics of bullying, depression, and identity in the same way most of us deal with these things in real life -- one day (or page) at a time. It is brilliantly written in a poetic, yet conversational style that is easy to read and almost impossible to put down.
Whether you are a young adult, a parent of a young adult, or (like me) just an adult who sometimes needs a reminder on how to get through this thing called life, it's more than worth it! I am already queueing it up for a second read.
We all possess at least a sliver of "Celia the Dark" . . . frankly, reading her story makes me wish I had had the confidence to be a little more Dark (meaning authentic, insightful, curious, wise, sensitive) when I was in high school.
Celia's voice is fabulous and quirky--yet accessible--and her complicated feelings for Drake are so real. Highly recommend this novel--a great one for teens AND their parents--and I cannot wait to read Finneyfrock's next story.
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Reading this book, I could see how cool, smart and funny Celia is, while also completely...Read more