Dec 7, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects Blog Tour

Author: Stephanie LaCava
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: December 4th, 2012
Pages: 177
Genre: Memoir
Source: From the publisher via TLC Book Tours

Blurb from Goodreads:  An awkward, curious girl growing up in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava finds solace and security in strange and beautiful objects. When her father's mysterious job transports her and her family to the Parisian suburb of Le Vesinet, the young American embarks on a life of discovery. Tasting the enchantments of Paris, she makes friends with her peers at a wildly unconventional international school and faces terrorism. But Stephanie's wonder gives way to anxiety and a deep depression brought on by a series of circumstances. Through her darkest moments, Stephanie continues to filter the world through her peculiar lens, discovering the strange beauty surrounding her. The grotesque (beetles and catacombs), the natural (mushrooms and lilies of the valley) the cultural (Nirvana and other nineties touchstones) and the historical (Nancy Cunard, Jean Seberg), all become unique talismans. Encouraged by her father through trips to museums and scavenger hunts in antique shows, she traces an interconnected web of stories of past outsiders, historical and natural objects, and her present predicament that ultimately helps her survive when she feels she's losing control.

A series of essays that unfold in cinematic fashion, An "Extraordinary Theory of Objects" moves from past to present as Stephanie revisits France seeking to understand and make peace with her childhood. Her journey reveals the magic of seemingly ordinary objects to distract us from our lives, construct order in an unpredictable world, and reveal the power of stories to shape and reflect who we are.

 

Review: This is a beautiful book. It really is. It is cloth bound and the pages are deckle-edged. The illustrations of all the objects she feels a connection to are wonderful and add a personal touch to the narrative. See the photo below.



The book is tiny and not much larger than a mass market paperback. It is gorgeous and I love holding it in my hands. It is filled with delightful footnotes to give you background information on what you are reading about. Sometimes footnotes can be boring and dreadful. These were definitely not. I enjoyed reading this little gem. 

But...there's a but. I did not like it as much as I could have, and there are several reasons for this. The main issue was my lack of connection to the writing. It's a memoir and I felt I should have connected to the author so much more than I did, especially since she was battling with depression, and I have a rather strange concoction of depression/anxiety/social phobias. But I didn't connect to her because the writing style felt so detached. She was telling me her story, but I never really felt like I was there with her. And that was a shame.

I did think the writing was beautiful though, and I got a wonderful sense of what Paris was like through the author's eyes. The way the chapters and objects were divided was really inventive and I also enjoyed reading the footnotes with different tidbits of information. But really for me, reading is an emotional experience, and that was mostly missing for me here.

It's a fast read and one that can be finished in a couple of hours. I'm not sure what the point of this book was, but I did enjoy the escape it gave me for the short time it was with me. It definitely makes me want to visit Paris. I loved all the 90s references as it was the era I grew up in and something I hold near and dear to my heart. Simply put, this is an enjoyable read but nothing special. At least not for me. It could have been but the way the author kept the reader at a distance didn't really sit right with me. If you are going to tell your story, don't go halfway otherwise I don't see the point.

But I CAN say that maybe it was just me feeling this way. Because depression and anxiety are such a large part of my life, maybe I expected more. And maybe someone else would understand better than I did. I definitely would recommend this to the right person. I just am having a hard time deciding who that person would be. Definitely lovers of Paris. And I think memoir readers would enjoy it. Fans of the 90s definitely. If you think the right reader might be you, pick it up. It should be read.

3/5 Dragons

To purchase a copy of The Extraordinary Theory of Objects from Amazon.com, click here: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris.


Thanks to Harper and TLC Book Tours, I am able to host a giveaway for 1 copy of The Extraordinary Theory of Objects for a US/CA winner. Sorry international readers, next time!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

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10 comments:

  1. Hmm, that's just too bad the emotional coponent is missing. I've reviewed one memoir for TLC Book Tours and had the same experience. It's so odd, because I would have thought that the purpose of the memoir is to really get to know the author. Actually, I felt that way about The Glass Castle too, popular though it is. She told all about her life, but I didn't really have a sense of who she was as a person. Maybe memoirs aren't for me?

    Love the sound of all of the references, though!

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    1. I liked The Glass Castle, but I can totally understand why you felt that way based on the writing. That one worked a little better for me, but you are right. I don't think it is memoirs in general though. I'm pretty sure most of them don't feel so detached. I am definitely going to try a few more before I decide completely.

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  2. I'm a sucker for books related to Paris, but that's too bad that the story wasn't a success. I have difficulty with memoirs or non-fiction books in general unless they are done right. Still interested in checking this out though, great review!

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    1. See, I usually love memoirs and non-fiction as long as they are about topics that interest me. It's a lovely book. I hope you enjoy it, Bonnie.

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  3. This sounds interesting, but I don't know if it's a book for me. It's too bad that you never really connected. I'm glad that it was still enjoyable enough though.

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  4. I'm sorry that you weren't able to connect with this one the way you hoped but I'm glad that you did enjoy parts of it all the same.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

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    1. Thanks, Heather. Despite the lack of emotional connection, it's still a lovely book and I learned quite a bit from it. That means something to me! :)

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