The jacket of Crashing Down
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
People hear about hard-core drug addicts, maybe see them in movies or even know a few in or from their school. But what if that junkie was your best friend of fifteen years, and suddenly you didn’t know that person anymore?
In the book In Ecstasy by Kate McCaffrey, this is what happens between best friends, Sophie and Mia. Sophie is the popular one, while Mia is more reserved and shy. So one night at a party when Sophie decides to try ecstasy, Mia follows her lead. Sophie enjoys the high and has fun, but for Mia it’s a completely different world. Ecstasy gives her the courage and self-esteem she lacks on her own. She is able to socialize with the crowd and even finds herself talking to one of the most popular boys in school. Mia has the time of her life. The girls attend a few more parties together, and each time Mia is determined to take ecstasy as a way to become this new, improved person. Yet as the time goes on, Mia doesn’t need Sophie anymore. She becomes attached to her new boyfriend, Lewis, and even more attached to this other person she has started to become. Sophie tries rekindling their friendship but discovers the duo no longer has anything in common.
Mia begins taking more and more drugs in order to successfully be this happy, popular, carefree girl. Her grades slip, she continually loses weight, fights with her parents and convinces herself Sophie is simply jealous of her new life. One night at a party at her boyfriend’s house, Mia is brutally awakened to not only the dangers of drugs but to the type of person her boyfriend truly is. Yet at this point Mia is so addicted that she will stop at nothing to get her fix. Meanwhile Sophie and Mia’s family are forced to watch Mia destroy her life.
To listen to various real-life drug addicts who discuss similar situations and emotions seen in In Ecstasy, check out this video. I really enjoyed this book a lot. One aspect that really stuck out for me was simply that McCaffrey does not lie about drugs. Through Mia, the reader sees that yes, drugs can make a person feel incredible. They can give them that extra courage or help they think they need to become popular and even make people believe their lives are better. Yet at the same time McCaffrey shows the true effects of drugs.
Mia doesn’t become a cool, popular kid; she becomes an addict who potentially loses everything important in her life. I also enjoyed this book because it is told from both Sophie’s and Mia’s point of view. It is interesting to see both characters and their personal situations through each others’ eyes. It gives the reader a deeper perspective into the characters. I think this is an excellent learning book for students but I do not know if there is any way that parents and/or administrators would allow this to be taught.
Obviously this book is primarily about drug abuse, but along with that there are issues of sexual assault, teenage sex, peer pressure, and theft. Because of these serious issues and fairly graphic details, I would recommend this book for older students who are mature enough to handle them. Additionally I might recommend this book to parents. Not everyone knows the signs to look for if their child is doing drugs, and I think this book is especially informative and honest about drug abuse.
Since this is told from two female’s perspectives, I also think girls might get more enjoyment out of this book than boys, although regardless of the gender, this is still a very informative book on drug addiction. As a whole, this book is entertaining, interesting, sad and extremely realistic. Mia and Sophie really come alive for readers, and I empathized with them throughout the book. These characters remind me that being an impressionable teenager is not easy, something that as an adult, I think it’s sometimes easy to forget.
Posted by Amy
Beautiful Monster was released in May this year. It was picked up by Australian Standing Order- so that means the first print run is almost sold out! Very happy to attract their attention, although they did say that beautiful monster should win This Year’s Ugliest Cover Award!!!
I think it is a beautiful cover- what do you think?
Here are some reviews of it so far:
“Tess hears screeching brakes.
The soft whump Brodies body makes as it hits the ground.”
How often does a death in the family result in the death of a family?
Beautiful Monster-Kate McCaffrey is an unflinching and heartbreaking portrait of a teenage girl left to cope alone with her grief and guilt over the death of her little brother. As her mother drowns in her bereavement and her father struggles to maintain a sense of equilibrium for them all, Tess stands bewildered, lost and alone.
Tess has no choice but to turn to the one person who loves her, the one person who tells her like it is, the only person she can trust. Ned. Except Ned is the insidious voice of her guilt and self loathing. Ned is the sly whisper in the dark that she needs to do better, be better, try harder. Ned is the silky voice leading Tess into a personal hell where her desperate grasping at perfection soon sees her trapped in a downward spiral resulting in an eating disorder and a near brush with death herself. Far from glamorising anorexia, Beautiful Monster illustrates just how seductive a cycle an eating disorder can become.
Beautiful Monster also begged a painful question for me as a parent. In the face of the enormous and (I hope to only imagine) unbearable, anguish that comes with the loss of a child, where does the parent end and the person begin? Tess so desperately needs her mother, yet her mother is too engulfed in her own grief to see that she has a surviving child. A child who needs her. A grief she experiences because she is a mother. She was Brodie’s mother too.
And so Beautiful Monster becomes a study not simply of an eating disorder, but of a family mourning the loss of one of its own. A mother struggling to surface from the murky depths of depression and near madness. A father valiantly trying to be a husband, a mother and a carer. And a girl struggling to survive beyond the shadow of her brother’s death and ultimately her own failure to save him.
I live in awe of Kate McCaffrey. Truly I do. Her first book Destroying Avalon, quite literally destroyed me. Few authors are able to capture a teenage voice as convincingly and inexorably as Kate McCaffrey.
More than once I found myself needing to put this novel down and remind myself to breathe. Beautiful Monster is one of those rare novels that will leave you feeling like you have been punched in the gut, not once but twice. I have no doubt it will take your breath away.
Thanks to The Book Gryffin http://bookgryffin.globalteacher.org.au/2010/05/04/beautiful-monster-kate-mccaffrey/
If it wasn’t for Ned, she’d be all alone. He’s her greatest support and staunchest ally. He’s privy to her deepest secrets, comforts her at night when she cries, holds her and makes her feel loved – when it feels like everyone else has gone. And he knows how to make things okay again. If Tessa can only be perfect, things will get better. The perfect daughter, the perfect marks, the perfect body. But there is a fine line between being in control and being controlled.
Wow where do I start?
Always tackling the important topics for young adults such as cyber-bullying (Destroying Avalon) and drugs use (In Ecstasy), Kate McCaffrey has done it again with Beautiful Monster, focusing on a young girl struggling through her teenage years who has developed an eating disorder following the devastating death of her younger brother.
Beautiful Monster not only deals with the primary issue of body image and eating disorders but also the grief of losing a loved one. As her parents suffer with their own pain, Tessa manages to slip through the cracks, hiding her own pain as she strives to reach her goal weight.
Told in three parts, two years separating each, we accompany Tess as she loses her brother, endeavours to be perfect and keep control over all aspects of her life, copes with her parents, hides her illness, suffers denial and isolates herself from her friends. Then, as her her secret is discovered, we see the aftermath of her treatment and the possibility of a relapse as old foes once again come to light.
Just like her previous books, Beautiful Monster is something every teenage girl should read.