The Fire’s Out Anyway! (The Light We Lost)

The Human experience is often full of regrets that rose-tints our world with what we call nostalgia and paints an elegantly beautiful image of the world that once was for us… as well as the choices not taken. Even on a good day we looked back and wonder “what if?” and we dream and glamorize how that should’ve been the choice we’d made and how much amazing it would’ve been had we not chosen… well… whatever we’ve chosen at this point in your life. However, we’ll never know…

Sometimes it’s good that we never know.

It makes it easier to focus on the world of now and make real choices.

Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist and here comes a dull review of:

I found it odd that every image of this book cover included some aesthetic style photo. Whatever.

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This Book has Schizophrenia (Made You Up)

So, when I set out to read this story, I was given the premise that 1. It was a good story and 2. It was a positive accurate portrayal of mental illness – specifically schizophrenia.

I’ve disclosed before on this blog that I have schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. I’ve been officially diagnosed since 2014 and before this, I was diagnosed as bipolar with PTSD and anxiety disorder. That being said, I have some personal experience in the illness as well as factual knowledge because when I found out, I wanted to make sure I know everything that was happening to me.

You know it would be nice to see something a decent percentage of people suffer from represented in not so much a positive way, but in a realistic way that conveys the realities of living with the symptoms of it.

So that being said, I’d like to say on a personal level… Fuck… This… Book…

Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist and here comes a review of…

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We’re going to try something new in which I go in depth about the reasons this book fails on… a lot of fronts -takes a drink- Spoilers, Homie…

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SYNOPSIS!

“Made You Up” by Francesca Zappia is a slice of life #contemporary story of Alexandra “Alex” Ridgemont who thinks it’s super embarrassing that her history buff parents named her and her eight-year-old sister Charlemagne “Charlie” Ridgemont after historical figures. Meh, it’s fine. She is diagnosed as a small child with schizophrenia after hallucinating setting red lobsters free out of her tank with the help of a boy who is dubbed “Blue Eyes” whom she doesn’t see again afterward. See how that’s bold? Yeah, we’re going to get to that. When her mother returns to her, the lobsters were still in the tank alive and well and certainly not red so out of concern rather than assuming Alex had a big imagination, she went for the something wrong with this kid on that instance alone and got her the mental illness starter kit (A diagnosis, pills, and an ingrained fear of being locked away).

Fast forward to present day (nowhere is the time period hinted at. There’s no mention of smart phones being a regular part of their lives, personal internet in their homes doesn’t seem to exist — they have to research at the library where they’re even more surprised that the computers aren’t on some form of network even though as a library it should be — and, um, absolutely no mentions of social media or selfies. Alex literally takes old Polaroids instead of using her phone which she doesn’t have cause mom won’t let her have one? I dunno; time period unknown) Alex is now 17 and after a bit of delinquent behavior that is held back until half way through the book for no plot-relevant reason, she is now forced to leave Hill Park Private School to attend East Shoal High — a public school — and do community service in the “famed” Athletic Support Club!!!! If that sounds strange to you, that’s because it is.  Her vandalism is basically being worked off in a staccato paper thin version of the Breakfast Club where they don’t learn shit.

To add a bit of the dissonance I felt by that, Alex is also being forced to have a job by her mother and therapist to appear “normal”… where she spends her time talking to a Magic 8 Ball you later find out was never real…  Gonna just… unpack that later.

But overall she works to help her mother make ends meet as well, she’s trying to work off a big mistake she made, and she has to get used to a whole new school. Sounds like a typical girl in a typical world who has a little something that makes her above average (schizophrenia) and has to face the challenges of being not quite normal in the face of a budding love interest and the prospect of not being alone anymore. Great Premise. Very interesting. You hit Contemporary Teen Bingo! You might wanna pick it up…

But Harli, you said you hated this book…

Yeah….

Let me break down why this book so ratchet!

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The Marks We Leave Behind (the Ocean at the End of the Lane)

As it is well known I am a huge and unabashed fan of Neil Gaiman. I breathe for the man’s writing and imagination and sheer wit. I picked up View from The Cheap Seats — which is a nonfiction collection that I highly recommend if you’re a writer in need of inspiration — as soon as it was released in my store. So finally finishing the Ocean at the End of the Lane, I realized it has left its mark on me as much of Neil Gaiman’s work does on me and I am in for the long haul.

This review will be spoiler free as possible because I do not want to spoil this experience for anyone else, but there will be general synopsis given so if you don’t want that, I should say you remain here at the start while the rest of us travel down to the end of the Lane and into the world of Lettie Hempstock and her Ocean.

Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist and here comes a thought…

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The main character who can only be known as “the boy” as it is told from his point of view and no one seems to want to use his name, lives on a lane in fairly rural country.

Somewhere in England…

We’re here to talk about the story, not my inability to use a map. Continue reading

When Love is Not Enough (Me Before You)

I’m a bit late to the party for this book. I read it a couple of months ago when it popped up in my bookstore on the bestseller shelf. I thought it was just usual bubblegum romance of quirky girl and cold-blooded guy. Well it is….but also isn’t.

From this point on, there are *SPOILERS* so if you have not read this book/seen this movie, I ask that you exit…

…..Still here? Alright then…

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When I started reading the Me Before You I already knew what it was about before the prologue was over. Or rather I assumed I did. I was correct for the most part right until….the end when I got what I wanted and was heartbroken over it.

The synopsis is Louisa Clark being fired from her job as a waitress, one she’s held for many years and thus left at a loss of what to do. A great part of me was ready to hate Louisa with her pickiness about jobs, but then something really resonated with me. I realize she really was an every girl. We can talk about doing whatever we can to help our families and remain financially stable, but in practice we’re actually quite picky. Add to the fact that her family does not think very much of her skills yet are quite dependent on her income and you have a situation that is becoming more and more commonplace in our society. Yet she does try hard and for that…I don’t hate Louisa. I couldn’t.

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Mindless Self-Indulgence (In Other Words)

Disclaimer: I do not speak Italian and I have the utmost respect for Jhumpa Lahiri as a writer/storyteller. I’ve only read the English version of In Other Words so it is very possible that much of the meaning and reflection was lost in translation but since it boasts direct translation I highly doubt it.

The premise is that Lahiri has fallen in love and has harbored these feelings since 1994 since her first trip to Florence. There is no person, however. No, she has fallen into a one-sided infatuation with the Italian. Not the place, not the people, not the culture, but rather just the words. Because of this love she has taken it upon herself to learn it as a means of capturing it and holding it herself. As lessons prove not to be enough and she suffers with the inability to engage anyone with her new found love, she decides to move to Italy with her family for three years for no other desire than to immerse herself in Italian — the language not the culture. Continue reading