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A Reader of Fictions: Existentialism on Prom Night - Straylight Run

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Existentialism on Prom Night - Straylight Run

Tina's Mouth

Author: Keshni Kashyap
Illustrator: Mari Araki
Pages: 250
ARC Acquired from: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
For her course on existentialist philosophy in her sophomore year of high school (she goes to the fanciest of schools), Tina is writing a diary to Jean-Jacques Rousseau about her thoughts regarding existentialism and trying to discover herself. Accompanying, the entries are her illustrations.

First of all, I feel the need to emphasize how much I wish I could have gone to a high school with classes specifically on existentialism and Russian literature. I went to a good high school, but not that good. Also, I am super envious of her project being to write a journal that the teacher has promised not to open and read. He must, though, right? Otherwise, I bet about half of the students who had chosen that project wrote nothing.

Anyway, I loved this. Tina was a really believable heroine, suffering through such angsty teen problems as friend breakups, boy drama and family crises. The bits on friendship were really hard-hitting and realistic, as I should know having had many such issues of my own.

Another main theme of the book is diversity and not making assumptions based on race. For example, Tina is Indian. Everyone keeps asking her stupid questions about things, particularly religion. Her crush throughout the book is even laboring under the delusion that she is a Buddhist (she's not; she's a atheist).

What really made this book pop, though, were the illustrations. I just loved them. They really do make the journal look like something a teen (a much more artistic one than I ever was or could have hoped to have been) would make. So much of her personality shines through the illustrations. I bet they look stellar in the actual book (as opposed to the e-galley).

Even though the story does not actually involve prom or prom night, I couldn't pass up the only song currently in my music library about existentialism. There may not be singing in the book, but, hey, you sing with a mouth right?

Rating: 3.5/5

"Sing me something soft,
Sad and delicate,
Or loud and out of key,
Sing me anything,
We're glad for what we've got,
Done with what we've lost
Our whole lives laid out right in front of us"

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