Anxiety: A Response to Eliza and Her Monsters

Hey everyone!  If you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll maybe have noticed that I rarely post about my personal life.  I don’t normally have a lot of time for that, but I also think there’s some right to privacy, you know?  But the topic of the last book I read was one that I felt compelled to write about.

Anxiety.

I feel like anxiety gets trivialized in the media, like how we’re the Prozac nation or the Xanax generation, but anxiety can’t be trivialized when you have it.  This is my story.

For most of my life, I’ve been what people have referred to as a worrier or a worry-wart.  I stressed out about things I had no control over and mothered people as a way to retain that control when I could.  Since I was 7 or 8 years old, I’ve picked at my nails, and around 18 or 19 it started to include picking at the skin around my nails.  (Both of these are symptoms of anxiety, I’ve read.)  I worried about everything.  I worked hard on all my homework so I wouldn’t worry about grades, Google-mapped every route 12 times to make sure I wouldn’t worry about going new places, and listened to all the health experts about what I should and shouldn’t do with my body so I wouldn’t worry about my health.

I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that I have full-blown anxiety syndrome.  I don’t. (Or at least I don’t think I do.  You may not agree by the time you read all this.)  But like many people, I suffer from somewhat frequent (and random) bouts of anxiety over many things.  Making phone calls.  Driving.  Confrontations.  Hospitals.  Churches.  (Those are all real anxieties I have, by the way.)

And of course, anxiety takes many forms.  Many of us feel anxious going into a job interview or working on homework or going somewhere new.  That’s normal.  I get that too, but sometimes I think it goes beyond what most people feel.  I sometimes let that anxiety win.  If I’m too afraid of what parking is going to be like downtown or if I don’t know if I’ll like a restaurant, I just won’t go.  If I’m afraid of what people will think of me eating at a restaurant by myself, I won’t do it.  While I’m better now than I used to be in some ways, it’s still a problem at times.

Let me tell you about my latest (and worst) anxiety attack.  A couple of weekends ago, I went to a wedding with my boyfriend for one of his college friends.  I’d met the groom before, but he and my boyfriend were the only two people I knew.  And, being an introvert, I was worried about constantly being surrounded by people I didn’t know and how I’d have to make small talk or risk looking like a loser sitting by herself.

Ironically, this wasn’t what set off my anxiety attack.  The church was.  Or, more specifically, the mass.

See, I grew up Catholic.  And for a number of my formative years, I enjoyed parts of it.  As a kid, I liked the songs and my Sunday school teachers and the Bible stories.  But I never liked communion.  And as I got older, the constant Catholic message of needing to be perfect, of being worthy, absolutely terrified me that I wasn’t enough.

I have always been a perfectionist.  My anxiety stems from perfectionism, whether it’s grades or sports or crafts.  I have to keep working at it until I perfect it.  And if I can’t master it, then I’m not good enough.  Sometimes that challenges me enough to keep trying, sometimes I shut down and panic.

And Catholicism, in my experience, feeds on that doubt and panic.

What my boyfriend neglected to tell me (because he knew I’d freak out) was that this was going to be a Catholic wedding.  So when we arrived for the rehearsal the night before the wedding, I got quite a shock.  But the rehearsal went well and I started to meet a lot of new people.  Everything was going ok.  I was having fun.

Until the wedding.  If you’ve never experienced a Catholic wedding, they tend to combine the wedding with an actual mass service, communion and several readings included.  And one of the things they say in that service is that you should feel worthy before accepting communion, like by making peace with yourself before you come up to the priest or something.  I’m actually not entirely sure what they intend when they say “feel worthy.”  But I know how I interpret it.

As a perfectionist, I never feel worthy.  So over the years, I’ve become conditioned to freak out as soon as I see the communion part of mass start.  Is this logical? Maybe not.  But, I argue, when has anxiety every been logical and rational?  All I know is that part of every church service I’ve ever sat through has a section where I feel like I’m not good enough and everyone around me feels like they are.  (It doesn’t help that those who don’t receive communion sit in the pews by themselves, further ostracizing them from the herd.  Like an injured gazelle in the savannah, everyone notices you and does nothing about it.)

So when the priest started going through the communion rituals at the wedding, I started panicking.  Like, legitimate panic.  Normally, I have someone near me (family, etc) that I try to stay calm around because, you know, I’m a perfectionist and I don’t want anyone to see me freak out over something like this.  But I was alone.  My boyfriend was a groomsman and up front.  Everyone else I’d met the night before was in the wedding party and also up front.  I was in a pew by myself, with no one around me.  One guy was across the aisle from me, but that was it.  No one in front of or behind me.

And I panicked.  My breathing sped up, my heart pounded against my ribs, and I started to feel light headed.  It felt like I’d just got done jogging a half-mile, the way I was breathing.  I wasn’t quite gasping for breath, but it was close.  I was sweating and my fingers were trembling.  I could barely get my fingers to wrap around the pew in front of me to hold on (we were standing at the time).  I was losing strength in my hands and legs.  I even intentionally bent my knees to keep from locking them and passing out.  I stared at the pew in front of me with wide eyes and tried to take deep breaths, all the while attempting to drown out the priest’s words so something he said wouldn’t make it worse.

It was terrifying.  I’ve never been that far gone in an anxiety attack before in my life, and here I am, doing it in the middle of someone’s wedding ceremony.  I was terrified, on top of that, that I was going to either A) hyperventilate and pass out, thereby creating a scene or B) have to leave the church during the service, also probably creating a scene.  I did not want to be remembered by all these people as The Girl Who Fainted in Church.  I had to keep mentally telling myself that everything was ok, I was going to be ok, the service would be over soon.  Because the minute I stopped saying those things, a mental chant of “I’m not ok, this isn’t working” started to run through my head and it got worse.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I remember little of the end of the ceremony.

It felt like eons before we exited the church, though it was probably only another ten minutes.  I was still shaking even after that as we welcomed the happy couple into the world, though I think I did a good job hiding it.  I didn’t entirely feel better until well after we’d left the church.  And even then, I was still freaked out that it had been that strong.

So when I read Eliza and Her Monsters, which is about anxiety, I connected with Eliza on a number of levels.  I understood her anxiety about people and wanting to stay home and watch TV reruns rather than go out.  I understood her need to hold onto her anonymity in the world.  I understood her fear and worry and (obviously) anxiety when everything started to fall apart.  I had gone through something that felt similar to that only recently.

And it was because of Eliza’s story that I wanted to share my own.  I think that’s part of why stories about mental health are so important and why I gravitate so much toward Francesca Zappia’s writing.  I think that’s exactly why she keeps writing books like this.  It not only makes us more aware of what other people are going through, but it makes us also want to speak up about our own experiences.

I’m not going to say there’s a happy ending to this.  Sorry.  Anxiety is something I deal with in moderation basically every day.  It could be a little thing like posting a personal story online or it could be bigger like wondering if I made the right career choice.

All I can say is that talking seems to help me.  And I have to teach those around me how to listen.  I have a few people that I trust to talk to about these worries.  Sometimes I only talk to one of them, sometimes I talk to multiple for different perspectives.  But the best listeners are the ones who just let me get it out and ask questions about how I feel or what happened next when I don’t know what to say.  (Word of warning: watch out for the ones who say, “You’re fine, there’s nothing to worry about.”  For me, that only makes things worse because clearly, I’m not fine and telling me not to worry doesn’t magically make the panic go away.)

So, from one person to another, be kind.  If you see someone struggling with anxiety, even if it doesn’t make sense to you, try to be understanding.  There may be a story behind it that you don’t understand yet, like me panicking in a wedding ceremony.  Just listen and be there.  Or, if you’re the one with anxiety, talk about it.  Truly, sometimes mentally working through your worries and discussing them out loud decreases the fear they hold over you.  And, by talking, you’re increasing your support system rather than isolating yourself.  And that support system is key to feeling better.

If you’d like to leave a comment with your own stories, feel free.  You aren’t alone in this.

~Holly

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Were Movies

Hey guys!  I had some free time this week (some of my last before school starts back up again…ugh), so I thought I’d do a couple of specialty posts before summer ends.  And while there aren’t any official Top Ten Tuesdays until August, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at a couple that I haven’t done but look interesting.

And I love movies (who doesn’t?), so I thought this might be cool.  We spend a lot of time complaining about how Hollywood ruins movies as they adapt them (though they are getting better), so this is my Best-Case-Scenario adaptations.  Also, if you have news that any of these are going to be movies/already are and flew beneath the radar, please leave that in a comment!  There are so many adaptations being done right now that I’ve lost track.

Top Ten Books I Wish Would Be Movies

(Or a TV series…I’d be good with that too.)

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

    Let’s be realistic.  Is there ever going to be a time when this doesn’t show up on my Top Ten lists?  No.  But that’s because this story is complex, well-written, surprising, and has a whole cast of great characters that you love, love to hate, and want to impale on a pike.  (…Too much?)  I think this would be an awesome fantasy series, if it could be done well.  And by that I mean no changes from the source material whatsoever.

  2. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

    Everyone’s super into Beauty and the Beast right now, so why not adapt a brilliant sci-fi version?  I mean, how many variations of Cinderella are out on video?  Let’s get BatB on that bandwagon.  Because this story is also brilliant and complex, with an interesting and unexpected twist on the tale as old as time.

  3. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

    The reason I want this to be a movie may be surprising.  It’s not because it’s a great teenage love story (though it is), but because of Jordan herself.  She’s fiesty and athletic and totally one of the guys.  She’s a fantastic atypical role model for girls and I would absolutely love to see girls have someone like her to look up to.  Growing up a tomboy myself, I constantly felt like people and the media were judging me because I wasn’t wearing makeup and doing my hair, etc., and I don’t want other girls to be judged the way I was.

  4. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

    I love a good Robin Hood retelling, as do many people judging by how there’s a new movie every 5-10 years.  This one is less action based than some of the others, but it makes up for it with the intricacies of the plot and the scheming of the baddies.  There are impossible predicaments these characters are put in with no easy answers.  And I’d love to see a movie that does that.

  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

    I feel like this go looked over in the rush of turning YA novels into movies.  I know angels are kind of on the outs right now and not nearly as popular as tragic teen love stories, but I think if done well, this could be spectacular.  The special effects in this alone would probably get me to the theatre.

  6. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

    Like seriously, how is this not a thing?  I mean, Hunger Games, Divergent, The 5th Wave all got made into movies.  This was just as big as any of those.  Yes, it’s more fantasy than dystopia, but still.  This was one of the first fantasy novels where I fell in love with a fantasy world.  And you’ve got to admit there’s a lot of action.

  7. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

    This could be really interesting as a movie, especially when you take into account that the main character is an unreliable narrator since she can’t tell reality from fiction.  So while highlighting mental illness and making it relatable, I think this could also be an interesting experiment in movie making.  Probably an indie movie, though, since big companies would think it’s too risky.

  8. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

    Like seriously, how has this not been turned into a movie either?  It’s a creepy ghost story in line with other horror stories and ghost thrillers, but with a dash of humor and romance.  It’s so interesting and good.

  9. A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

    I’ve noticed lately that movie makers are starting to delve into little-known historical moments and people to make into make really interesting movies (see: Dunkirk, The Imitation Game, Hamilton [it’s a musical but so what?]).  So I think this extremely well-written book about the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Influenza that devastated cities across the country would be really fascinating.  Because this was the era of World War I, still-growing medical knowledge, and new technology.  And, like many of the dystopians that are famous, you get to see neighbors turning on each other for survival.  Only this is scarier because it’s real.

  10. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

    When I first wrote this one down, I was all for it.  And I still am, but I think this is probably another indie movie-style book.  The main character doesn’t talk.  She can’t.  And it’s a great look at what it means to be silenced in the many ways that someone can be silenced.  There’s drama and some action, but it’s mostly about the themes.  And I think an Indie movie would do it justice.

Eliza and Her Monsters

First Lines: Eliza Mirk is the kind of name you give to the creepy girl who clings to her ex-boyfriend for weeks after he’s dumped her because she refuses to accept that he hates her guts.  Eliza Mirk is a low-level villain with a secret hideout in the sewers.  Eliza Mirk belongs in a comic book.  But Eliza Mirk is me.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you may recall my love for Zappia’s debut novel, Made You Up, which deals with a girl with schizophrenia.  It was a beautifully written novel.  And when I knew this was coming out, I was very interested to see how it would measure up to the previous novel.

In the real world, Eliza is weird.  She’s shy, maybe a bit creepy, and definitely a loner.  But online, she’s the creator of the massively popular webcomic Monstrous Sea.  And because her online life is so amazing, she has no reason to try to make her real life any better…until Wallace.  When Wallace Warland moves to her school, she finds a kindred spirit.  A huge Monstrous Sea fan and fanfiction writer, Wallace manages to draw Eliza out of her shell and she begins to wonder if life offline can be just as awesome as online.  But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she cares about–Monstrous Sea, her relationship with Wallace, her family–starts to fall apart…

I was not disappointed. Zappia does her homework when it comes to the mental health issues she uses in her books and she writes about it in a realistic way so you can feel it too. This was very well done.

Also, you know what this reminds me of?  Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  There are a number of similarities between Eliza and Cath, though obviously there are a lot of differences as well.  But I think if you’re cool with Fangirl, you’ll probably like this as well.  This is maybe a little less heavy on the fandom stuff and a little heavy on mental health issues.
Eliza is an antisocial artist. For years, she’s been working on a webcomic that became big. And no one knows she’s the artist, just the way she likes it. Eliza is not perfect, which is the way I like protagonists. She’s seriously closed off, a bit selfish, and definitely has trouble communicating with anyone if she can’t talk to them via the internet. But it was relatable. As an introvert myself, I got it. I understood that need to have a few moments to think through your answers before you say important things out loud. I understood that need to get away from people and settle in somewhere alone to work on your own projects.

And the other characters are equally imperfect and well-written.  You can tell that almost everyone means well, and the ones who don’t still have redeeming moments. But it’s the emotion that gets you. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that hit me that hard right in the feels. This one was raw.  The last like 50 pages left me struggling for my composure.

Sometimes, it was almost too raw. A couple of the characters (I won’t say who) deal with anxiety and panic attacks. And as someone who deals with mild anxiety of her own, there were some scenes that were almost too well-written because my own anxiety started to flair up. But I managed to get over it quickly enough. Still, that was a surprise.

This is beautifully written and such an accurate portrayal of what it means to have anxiety, among so many other things.  Zappia is, I think, doing so much for bringing mental health issues to the forefront by creating real characters who show you that this is just a part of their life and they still struggle with all the same things (boys, school, family) that you do.  I’m really starting to love her for that.

March: Books 1-3

First Lines: “Can you swim?”  “No.”  “Well, neither can I–but we might have to.”

So over the weekend, I actually read all three of these.  And since they’re so similar, I didn’t think it made sense to give each of them a different review when I was going to say the same things over and over.  I thought it would be better just to tell you about the whole series at once.

Congressman John Lewis was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement.  He committed to nonviolence in the 60s, fighting everything from segregated lunch counters to African-Americans’ right to vote.  From the days of Jim Crow and segregation to the present, Lewis has steadfastly fought for what he thinks is right.  Now, he shares his story.

In case you didn’t pick up on it, this is a nonfiction graphic novel series.  Lewis tells his story and shows you everything he and others went through in their fight for equality.  I’m sure some things have been slightly edited or changed simply because who’s going to remember every detail 50 years later?  I can barely remember what I ate yesterday.

But for the most part, this is an incredible and emotional look at the Civil Rights Movement.  Obviously, most of us grew up learning about it in the context of Martin Luther King and possibly Malcolm X, as well as a few scattered other pieces of history.  I’d only known about John Lewis as a Congressman who knew King.  (I think someone interviewed him on TV at some point in the last few years and that’s how I knew that.)  That’s basically all I knew about him.

Lewis…I can’t say just how much I now respect this man.  He fought for so much without losing himself or his values along the way.  It’s simply incredible.

Book 1 begins with Lewis’s upbringing in rural Alabama, continuing on to his joining a nonviolent movement, protesting segregated lunch counters, meeting MLK, and more protests.  I found this story to be a bit more amusing than the later ones.  (For example, Lewis wanted to be a preacher, so he practiced his sermons on chickens.  And it’s drawn in great detail.)

Book 2 gets more serious.  While Lewis and the nonviolent movement have had some successes, the violence against them is increasing.  This book includes Freedom Rides, police brutality, the Kennedys, and some of the biggest movers and shakers of the Civil Rights Movement coming together to coordinate their efforts.  This one really started to drill home how much people in the South did not want to integrate.  No better example of this than Bull Connor, a police chief who would literally do anything to stop the protesters.

Book 3 is, of course, the most harrowing of them all.  Bombings, murder, assassinations, injustice, and the quest to give everyone the right to vote as the Constitution ensures.  This one is a little more political because, now that the movement has grown so much, they’re trying to make more sweeping changes that can only happen through legal means.  And, of course, they want to make sure they’re fighting as much as they can legally to make sure these injustices can’t continue.

I love that these books speak on so many levels.  There’s this overwhelming theme of equality, whether you’re male or female, Black or White, American or something else.  Yes, it’s absolutely a tale of the Civil Rights Movement, and I don’t want to diminish that in any way.  This is a Big Deal and can easily be looked at just through that lens (as I mostly did).  But Lewis’s conviction that inequality and injustice should always be fought so easily translates to anyone else fighting for the same rights he fought for over 50 years ago.

I don’t often read graphic novels, so I can’t comment too much on the artwork, but I will say that it was easy to follow and the story made sense.  I think there were some times they may have dropped the plot a little just because there was so much going on, but it generally worked.

And I think a graphic novel was probably the perfect medium for this story.  It’s one thing to read about the treatment these protesters received at the hands of citizens, vigilantes, and police; it’s another to see depictions of burned out cars, wounds, and explosions.  It’s more emotional that way.  And I think this makes the story more accessible to audiences.

Seriously, everyone needs to read this series.  If I could, I would teach it in my class.

The Names They Gave Us

First Lines: The first prom crisis is manageable.  I’m reapplying my lip color in the ladies’ room when one of the swim team girls bursts in, sobbing.  Our senior captain, Mallory, is right behind her.

I’ve been a fan of Emery Lord from the beginning, and every new book of hers is one that I always add to my to-read list.  She is the new Sarah Dessen (not that anything at all is wrong with still reading Dessen books), writing contemporary stories with love, family, hard problems, and life.  She’s great.  And I had to grab this at the library.

Life is perfect for Lucy.  She’s the swim captain with the perfect boyfriend and a fantastic family.  But when Lucy learns that her mom’s cancer has reappeared, her life goes into a tailspin.  Gone is that comfort she used to feel, gone is her solid faith in God.  She even loses her place at the bible camp she’s been going to her entire life.  Instead, Lucy gets a job at a camp for kids who have been through hard times.  Lucy’s doing her best, but she’s in over her head and wants nothing more than to be across the lake with her parents.  But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers.  Still, it’s not just new friends that Lucy finds at camp–there are also secrets coming to light.  There’s more to Lucy’s family than even Lucy knew about.

I found this one to be better than When We Collided, which was one Lord story I just couldn’t connect with. I don’t think I connected with this story as much as some readers (the ones who keep mentioning how much they cried), but I related to Lucy and her story. Lucy is a PK who loves her time in Bible camp and playing piano in church. She’s close with her parents and she is the swim captain with the perfect boyfriend. But that all falls apart when her mom’s cancer returns. And so does her faith.

I’ll be the first to admit that I usually steer clear of stories with a focus on religion. Mostly it’s because I have my own long and tangled past with religion and I don’t like reminders of certain things. But I’m also drawn to these stories because of the struggles the characters go through.  They just have a different feel to them than stories about other struggles, like families falling apart or trying to fit in.  I can’t really describe why they feel different, just that they are.

This book covers a lot of really dark topics without going too far into detail. Mostly it’s cursory with the proper seriousness to get you to understand what’s going on. This camp is for kids with horrible pasts, remember.  The plot would have been really slow if we had had to listen to everyone’s story.

I really liked the characters. I thought they were all sweet and different in their own ways. Obviously we see the most of Lucy, but she’s got a lot of depth, a lot of struggles. And it really showed how she grew over time. I liked that.

And I liked the plot too. It moves, though not at a ridiculous pace. I was always reading this, barely taking time to put it down. There were few if any spots I would call boring or unnecessary to the story. It all felt like it had a purpose.

Overall, I thought this was a great story. Still maybe not my favorite Lord story, but I really enjoyed this.

Seeker (Riders, #2)

First Lines: You don’t know what anger is until you’ve spent time with a mare in a truly foul mood.

You know what?  I don’t really know what to say up here today.  Normally I’d say something about Rossi or the series, but I’ve got nothing at the moment.  So let’s just get on with the review, shall we?

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead* This is a duology, so this is it.

When Daryn started having visions, no one believed her.  But she knew she could make a difference and save lives.  Until she lost Sebastian.  Since accidentally sealing Bas into another realm with a demon, Daryn has lost her visions.  She knows that Bas is alive and waiting for them to save him, but she’s going into this mission blind.  The other riders are relying on her.  As they begin their journey into a realm where nothing is as it seems, Daryn will face the ultimate test: will she have to become evil to stop evil?

It’s been a while since I read Riders, but I praised its originality at the time. A story about the Four Horsemen? Awesome. This story…not as exciting to me.

I’ll admit, part of the problem was that I didn’t remember the first story all that well. I remembered the big things, but not the nuances of the characters. It just made it so much harder to actually get into the story.

I did think it did some things well. This story jumps in narration between Daryn and Gideon, and it uses it to its advantage well. There are times it really heightens the suspense and other times when it’s used to explain things. Either way, it worked. I also liked seeing the characters put into situations that made them really uncomfortable and seeing how they responded to those challenges. And let me assure you, there are a lot.

I struggled a little with how much fantasy there was in this one. I don’t feel like that was the case with the first one, which was predominantly centered in the “real world”, but gave the characters supernatural powers. This is definitely more of a fantasy, taking place in another realm. And I just wasn’t getting into it.

Truly, I just struggled to get into this one and to stay interested. It’s not poorly written, but it may not have been what I thought it would be.  I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy right now.  Paranormal, yes.  Fantasy, not really.

Beastkeeper

First Lines: The air was full of ice the night Sarah’s mother packed all her bags and walked out.  That was the thing Sarah remembered most.

I feel like it is my job here at Belle of the Library to read and review every Beauty and the Beast knock-off that catches my attention (not that I’m complaining).  This one came free from Scholastic once in my orders and I thought it was a short (192 pages) read and I’d give it a try.

Sarah has lived a gypsy life, since her parents want to pack up and move every time the seasons change.  Her mother hates the cold, so every few months she’s ready to move again.  This nomadic life has made Sarah lonely and dreaming of magic.  But magic is what her parents are running from.  When Sarah’s mom walks out on them, an old magic flares up into their lives.  Her father begins to change into something beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he drops Sarah off at her grandparents’ home, grandparents she’s never met.  Deep in the forest behind the home, Sarah begins to untangle the curses that are layered on her family until she discovers the curse carries over onto her too.  The day Sarah falls in love will be the day she changes into a beast…unless she can break the curse first.

Truly, this isn’t a bad story. There was just an even mix of things I liked and things I didn’t.

Let’s start with the positives. This story turns a few fairy tale tropes on their heads. I don’t want to go into too much detail because the surprises are good. But the obvious one is key to the plot. In Beauty and the Beast, the prince becomes a beast until he learns to love and earns the love of another. In this story, love is what changes them into beasts. It’s a really interesting twist that played out better than I expected.

And speaking of twists, there are a few interesting turns in the plot from the characters as well. Basically, this book takes the cliche and makes you rethink the way you thought the story would go.

The characters were just ok. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to them, and very little character development to boot. They didn’t seem to talk like normal people either. That part felt like an old-style fairy tale where it was basically entirely a moralistic tale. You know what I’m talking about, the, “Once upon a time, there was a princess who loved books” etc. etc. Very basic, and the characters talked a bit oddly.

The only reason I think this was the case was because this book seems to be targeted to younger tweens, like 9-13 maybe. It’s entirely clean; it just has a younger protagonist than I normally read. So that might explain the simplistic writing.

Overall, I thought its twist on a classic fairy tale was interesting, but I probably wasn’t the target audience and that skewed my perception of it.