Tuesday, May 7, 2013
a beautiful mess by Ali Berlinski
Published May 2013 by Pubslush Press
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for this review
Biracial and bicoastal, Berlinski spent her childhood flying between the families of her divorced parents, without ever feeling like she fit in anywhere. Fortunately, she never lost her sense of humor, which is apparent on every page of her first book, a riotous and revealing look at the consequences of divorce, too much air travel, cultural diversity and conflicting and conflicted parents. With an open heart and an honest soul, she recounts her somewhat misspent youth and a wildly exciting (though equally torturous) love affair with the guy of her dreams. She loves, she loses and she packs it in, leaving behind the guy, two dysfunctional families, and a comfortable life to move to a foreign country and start all over again.
She’s Carrie Bradshaw reimagined as a third grade teacher in Brooklyn with zero interest in Manolo Blahniks. She’s a tough New Yorker with a tender twist of California sunshine in her blood that knows when to fight and when to surrender. Her journey will be oddly familiar and utterly unique to anyone who’s ever believed that love would save them—if not with this guy, then maybe with the next.
As her grandfather once said, “Well, it may not be the party you hoped for, but since we’re here, we might as well dance.” So now she lives in Spain and, despite everything, Berlinski keeps on dancing.
When I was pitched this book and read this summary, I expected to be reading a book that had me, at the very least, chuckling regularly. Heck, "riotous" makes me think guffawing may even break out. While Berlinski certainly includes a fair amount of humor in her stories, it never felt to me like she was getting as much out of her stories as she could have. After reading the book, I read her blog and the wit and dark humor that I saw in the book come alive on the blog.
It wasn't just when it came to the humor that I felt this way. I wanted more from Berlinski - more about the ways in which her relationship with her mother reached the point where Berlinski felt she had to sever the relationship, more of the way in which each of her ethnic backgrounds made her feel out of place in the other setting, more of how the things that make her unique made her life unique.
Less a memoir than a series of essays about her life, reading a beautiful mess could get confusing as it moved back and forth in time and people I thought were out of Berlinski's life suddenly reappeared. It also made for an abrupt ending for the book.
All of this makes it sound like I didn't like this book which is not the case; I just didn't like it as much as I wanted to, as much I as think I might have. My copy was an advanced reader copy and there were quite a lot of errors in it ("passed" instead of "past," "finance" instead of "fiance") that I hope will get corrected before this goes to print.
Oh, yeah, and before you pitch your book to bloggers to drum up some buzz for it, you should probably remember that at one point, you've taken a swipe at bloggers. When her mother posts some things on Facebook that upset Berlinski, she writes "On-line name calling? Come on, what are we? Bloggers?"
Pubslush is "a publishing platform for authors to raise funds and gauge the audience for new book ideas, and for trendsetting readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Through a publishing imprint, powered by readers, Pubslush acquires high potential books from the platform, and for every book sold, donates a children's book to a child in need."
I like this idea a lot - readers become empowered to choose the books they'd like to see in print, authors have a chance that might never have otherwise, and books get put into the hands of children. I'd call that a win all of the way around. I'd definitely encourage you to take a look at what Pubslush has to offer.
Plus, they sent me this book bag with my book and tied my book up with a pretty ribbon. I love that!