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An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris

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It's Girl Interrupted meets Miranda July—with a touch of Joan Didion—in this captivating collection of original essays revolving around a young American girl's coming of age in Paris. As an adolescent in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava found an unconventional way to deal with her social awkwardness and feelings of uncertainty about the future by taking solace from the It's Girl Interrupted meets Miranda July—with a touch of Joan Didion—in this captivating collection of original essays revolving around a young American girl's coming of age in Paris. As an adolescent in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava found an unconventional way to deal with her social awkwardness and feelings of uncertainty about the future by taking solace from the strange and beautiful objects she came across in her daily life. Filled with beautiful illustrations and providing a retrospective of nineties fashion and culture, An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris is sure to be a collector's item for Francophiles or anyone who has ever found security in the strangest of places.


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It's Girl Interrupted meets Miranda July—with a touch of Joan Didion—in this captivating collection of original essays revolving around a young American girl's coming of age in Paris. As an adolescent in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava found an unconventional way to deal with her social awkwardness and feelings of uncertainty about the future by taking solace from the It's Girl Interrupted meets Miranda July—with a touch of Joan Didion—in this captivating collection of original essays revolving around a young American girl's coming of age in Paris. As an adolescent in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava found an unconventional way to deal with her social awkwardness and feelings of uncertainty about the future by taking solace from the strange and beautiful objects she came across in her daily life. Filled with beautiful illustrations and providing a retrospective of nineties fashion and culture, An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris is sure to be a collector's item for Francophiles or anyone who has ever found security in the strangest of places.

30 review for An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kaylyssa Quinn

    The two stars are for the look and feel of the book itself and for Matthew Nelson's lovely drawings. I found this book impossible to relate to. The obsession with objects and the book-report-like footnotes served no purpose but to keep the reader at a distance by avoiding human emotion. There is no humor in the book; instead, LaCava takes herself and her experience so seriously that it's confusing. I wanted to laugh when she walked out of the dance and threw herself face-down into the dirt with The two stars are for the look and feel of the book itself and for Matthew Nelson's lovely drawings. I found this book impossible to relate to. The obsession with objects and the book-report-like footnotes served no purpose but to keep the reader at a distance by avoiding human emotion. There is no humor in the book; instead, LaCava takes herself and her experience so seriously that it's confusing. I wanted to laugh when she walked out of the dance and threw herself face-down into the dirt with loneliness and shame--not in a cruel way, but in an understanding, I've-been-there way. But LaCava does not let you say "I've been there" and she doesn not let you laugh. She wants to be "strange" and to describe a unique and unusual experience that is really anything but. Not only that, but she doesn't take you there with her either, she pushes you away and describes it to you from a distance. The sections on her childhood in Paris, what tiny snippets we are allowed to read between the bloated, ridiculous footnotes, seem pretty typical to me, despite her repeated and repetitive insistance that she is "strange." Most people I know, myself included, had turbulent teenage years where they went through some dark shit. Maybe not everyone, but a lot of people. Yet the whole idea of the book seems to be that LaCava's turbulent teenage years are "crazy" in some special, elevated way. I can't help but wonder if this results from growing up filthy rich and not realizing that the rest of the world is actually just like you. To be fair, it does seem like LaCava is actually naive to the experience of the rest of the world. I don't think she would have written this book if she didn't truly believe she was very, very special. Ironically, if she realized she was not unique, I think she would have written a better book. The extended pre-epilogue nature of the later sections, her big Return to France (she does realize some people never get to go to France, right? That some people can't afford to travel the world? Just wondering), seem to be mostly about how good she is at speaking French to taxi drivers. The fact that the book ends with her breaking away from her habit of eating only green beans to ordering a salad Nicoise is just a perfect way to sum up this ridiculous and self-absorbed memoir. Also, just a side note, I found it hard not to barf around the 35th time she described herself as being thin and elf-like. For someone who is asking her readers for pity, she sure is full of herself. If you want to glimpse into the fantastical world of the very rich and their completely out of touch worldviews, read this book. Otherwise, buy it and put it on your bookshelf for decoration, as it is very pretty.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janiece

    Awful. Irritating self-indulgent author, and it needed much tighter editing. Its title was misleading. Only good thing was the content of the footnotes, but with the way the book was designed, these broke up the reading experience and were an irritation. it's a shame you can't jusge a book by its cover, as it's a gorgeous looking book. Fail. Awful. Irritating self-indulgent author, and it needed much tighter editing. Its title was misleading. Only good thing was the content of the footnotes, but with the way the book was designed, these broke up the reading experience and were an irritation. it's a shame you can't jusge a book by its cover, as it's a gorgeous looking book. Fail.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I bought this in Paris at the Bookmarc store as I'm a sucker for a nicely produced hardback and it was set in Paris. I'm sure if she weren't known for writing in fashion this would not have got published. Much as I liked sections of it, I felt uncomfortable after I finished it. She writes about her depression but doesn't account for how she got through it. I really think she glamorises anorexia. She takes the narrative to a point where she collapses after not eating for several days and talks ab I bought this in Paris at the Bookmarc store as I'm a sucker for a nicely produced hardback and it was set in Paris. I'm sure if she weren't known for writing in fashion this would not have got published. Much as I liked sections of it, I felt uncomfortable after I finished it. She writes about her depression but doesn't account for how she got through it. I really think she glamorises anorexia. She takes the narrative to a point where she collapses after not eating for several days and talks about her body being undeveloped and boyish, plus references to another hunger-strike. 'Not eating gave me something to do.' Then she just jumps to the point when she's a functioning but fragile adult. I think teenage girls might find that it glamourises anorexia and depression with the implication that its ok because you get to be a writer later. But its not ok, is it?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    A book more concept than content; more mood than meaning, and ultimately, as ephemeral and snooty as the fashion mags the author refers to repeatedly. Two stars to honor the interesting concept and lovely drawings; other than that, this book taught me little about LaCava's life or her obsession with things. What seems like it began as a promising personal essay for a CNF class became a strangely elided memoir. Although some scenes from LaCava's life are clearly drawn, others are simply confusing A book more concept than content; more mood than meaning, and ultimately, as ephemeral and snooty as the fashion mags the author refers to repeatedly. Two stars to honor the interesting concept and lovely drawings; other than that, this book taught me little about LaCava's life or her obsession with things. What seems like it began as a promising personal essay for a CNF class became a strangely elided memoir. Although some scenes from LaCava's life are clearly drawn, others are simply confusing (was she depressed? Mentally ill? A "normal" teen?) or underdeveloped (what WAS her dad's job?). And though I appreciate the postmodern inclusion of extensive footnotes explaining various people and objects, at best they felt like a Wikipedia entry, and at worst like condescending explanations of obscure allusions so the hoi polloi would comprehend her depth and sophistication. There wasn't really a good reason to continuously interrupt the prose to read about Kurt Cobain or violet candies. Although I had begun with sympathy for a teen uprooted at a pivotal time in her life, I became less sympathetic to her "plight" -- oh noes, living in France and attending a fancy pants private school, the horror! -- the longer I read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    This is an interesting book. It is beautifully produced, with a lovely hardcover, line drawings, and deckled edge pages. The writing is strong and intimate and engaging. THere was a real lack of connective tissue, though, throughout the narrative. There's a really odd gap between the 90s and the aughts and I kept feeling like this memoir needed to be predicated on something a bit more substantive. Worth the read, but something's missing. This is an interesting book. It is beautifully produced, with a lovely hardcover, line drawings, and deckled edge pages. The writing is strong and intimate and engaging. THere was a real lack of connective tissue, though, throughout the narrative. There's a really odd gap between the 90s and the aughts and I kept feeling like this memoir needed to be predicated on something a bit more substantive. Worth the read, but something's missing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Woof. A very dear friend sent this to me knowing my affinity for all things Paris. But this book was just narcissistic and pointless, and she isn't actually in Paris for the majority of the book, but the banlieue/suburbs (nitpicking, but valid). The author tries so hard to be deep and eloquent and falls embarrassingly short. The prose reeks of desperation (her depression is kicked off because no boys want to dance with her at a school dance, so she goes into the forest and lays facedown in the d Woof. A very dear friend sent this to me knowing my affinity for all things Paris. But this book was just narcissistic and pointless, and she isn't actually in Paris for the majority of the book, but the banlieue/suburbs (nitpicking, but valid). The author tries so hard to be deep and eloquent and falls embarrassingly short. The prose reeks of desperation (her depression is kicked off because no boys want to dance with her at a school dance, so she goes into the forest and lays facedown in the dark, a la Bella in Twilight when Edward left her) and reads like LiveJournal-circa-2002-vague-blogging. I finished it in a few hours, so I can't be too upset that I wasted time on it; it was a fast read, made faster by my decision halfway through to stop reading the footnotes that pervaded the entire book and served no purpose (unless you wanted to know the origin of pajamas or street signs...seriously). There are about 45 references to "Bonjour Tristesse" and the word "insouciant" pops up constantly, as does the author's humblebrag that all French people adore her authentic French accent. No merci.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer K

    An Extraordinary THEORY .... Please! A THEORY is a system of ideas that is supposed to explain something. As far as I could tell this book has no system and does not explain anything. In fact I can't even explain why I finished it. (My theory is that I finish what I start). Half way through I really could not understand the author's point other than to intersperse some history of an object into the text by way of annoying footnotes. (To be fair one of them was interesting since prior to picking An Extraordinary THEORY .... Please! A THEORY is a system of ideas that is supposed to explain something. As far as I could tell this book has no system and does not explain anything. In fact I can't even explain why I finished it. (My theory is that I finish what I start). Half way through I really could not understand the author's point other than to intersperse some history of an object into the text by way of annoying footnotes. (To be fair one of them was interesting since prior to picking out this book off the library shelf I was not aware that one in every three insects is a beetle). There is only one other positive point to this book and its alleged theories - it delivers empirical evidence to never judge a book by its cover. The cover is beautiful and intriguing. Sadly this cannot be said of the text. Concluding this review now. To spend anymore time on it is An Extraordinary Waste of Time. Time which could be spent reading something worthwhile. Stand by.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really wanted to this book to be so much more. As an Interior Designer, the premise was intriguing as I, too, was one of those girls who believes in creating one's own world and I am drawn to and hold dear special objects. While I think Ms LaCava's book aimed for quirky this book was awkward and disjointed and also a little whiny. I imagine it can be hard to be whisked away to France during one's tween years, however, it's hard to sympathize with the author. I do empathize with her struggle ov I really wanted to this book to be so much more. As an Interior Designer, the premise was intriguing as I, too, was one of those girls who believes in creating one's own world and I am drawn to and hold dear special objects. While I think Ms LaCava's book aimed for quirky this book was awkward and disjointed and also a little whiny. I imagine it can be hard to be whisked away to France during one's tween years, however, it's hard to sympathize with the author. I do empathize with her struggle over mental illness but feel that she neither delves deep enough into this nor the objects relation to her depression or the true world they helped her create. As she talks to about her special collection, her love of them seems a bit surface for these objects that keep her connected to her own world. Perhaps it needs a second read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    Have I mentioned that I will do anything Flavorpill tells me to? Here's what they say about this one, which is on their "10 New Must-Reads for December" list: A collector to her bones, Stephanie LaCava’s first book is a series of wistfully illustrated essays that lead us through her youth growing up in a foreign land, dropping precious objects like breadcrumbs. “I was obsessed with cabinets of curiosities, historical efforts to catalog and control nature’s oddities,” she writes. By the end of thi Have I mentioned that I will do anything Flavorpill tells me to? Here's what they say about this one, which is on their "10 New Must-Reads for December" list: A collector to her bones, Stephanie LaCava’s first book is a series of wistfully illustrated essays that lead us through her youth growing up in a foreign land, dropping precious objects like breadcrumbs. “I was obsessed with cabinets of curiosities, historical efforts to catalog and control nature’s oddities,” she writes. By the end of this strange and lovely little journey, you will be too.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    I sympathized with the author as a child who feels detached from the world around her, but the book really reads like a long essay. Nothing is resolved, no conclusions are neatly pulled together, which I found a bit disappointing. There is no ending, and I have questions. Does the author suffer from another breakdown? Has she sought help for her depression? There is a sense of sweetness to the story, but overall I found it just a little too vague.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    What a stupid, self-absorbed waste of a book. Run away.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Danine

    The cover design of this book caught my eye as it was sitting on a shelving cart. I picked it up and it felt right. Looking at much of the reviews there is a consensus that the author is pompous and angsty. I did not think this at all because I could relate to her in a way that other people may have missed. As a child she is curious beyond her years. She has a peculiar taste for learning what other children her age simply can't understand. That is a special kind of isolation. Reading this brought The cover design of this book caught my eye as it was sitting on a shelving cart. I picked it up and it felt right. Looking at much of the reviews there is a consensus that the author is pompous and angsty. I did not think this at all because I could relate to her in a way that other people may have missed. As a child she is curious beyond her years. She has a peculiar taste for learning what other children her age simply can't understand. That is a special kind of isolation. Reading this brought back memories of how as a child I would sit and flip through my entire encyclopedia Britannica circa 1940 for hours because I didn't have anyone to play with. I started teaching myself Latin and I was allowed to walk by myself (not at night like the author) for miles and hours. Mostly, though I am fascinated by ancient and antique things (especially books) and what stories they cannot tell us. Ever. There is so much to learn and finding the history of things like kaleidoscopes, coral pieces, slips, Dodo birds, etc. Is it useless information to some? Yeah, but if fascinates and placates someone else it is best to leave them be without scrutiny. Learning the minutia of everything is quite magical (the rainbow unicorn kind) for some of us. I adored this gem of a book. It inspired me to create a picture journal of my own of the small extraordinary things that make up my own world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    I didn't know what to expect with this book. While the blurb tells me something ('A haunting and moving collection of original narratives that reveals an expatriate’s coming-of-age in Paris and the magic she finds in ordinary objects.') it didn't convey, I think, the real personality LaCava brings to her book. In further crankiness, I thought the subtitle ('A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris') as off-the-mark as the blurb. I found this book to be a memoir of depression, portrayed in a series of pl I didn't know what to expect with this book. While the blurb tells me something ('A haunting and moving collection of original narratives that reveals an expatriate’s coming-of-age in Paris and the magic she finds in ordinary objects.') it didn't convey, I think, the real personality LaCava brings to her book. In further crankiness, I thought the subtitle ('A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris') as off-the-mark as the blurb. I found this book to be a memoir of depression, portrayed in a series of playful, odd vignettes, voiced by a lonely American desperate for connection and unable to find the tools to get out of her head and be more present in the world. In the early '90s, LaCava's family moves to a suburb of Paris. She's sent to an international school where she finds herself isolated and unhappy. Teased by her classmates, she starts collecting objects in a kind of obsessive cataloging endeavor, as if naming and placing things would help her find herself. LaCava shares the experience of her crippling depression that broke my heart and resonated with me -- she and I seem to be approximately the same age, and while she was feeling like an outcast in '90s Paris, I was an outcast in '90s South Dakota. (Those who love the '90s will enjoy that bit of ambiance -- My So-Called Life and Nirvana feature in her vignettes, for example.) The book's narrative style is quirky, and I think readers will either love or loathe it. Interspersed in her vignettes, LaCava includes footnotes about an object or person, usually providing some quick trivia or history. The object in question is almost always paired with one of illustrator Matthew Nelson's drawings.  For LaCava, these objects are obviously totemic, deeply personal, and emotionally resonant, and the book's physical design -- cloth-bound cover, small size, and deckle-edged pages -- was tactile-ly satisfying, making me read a little more slowly, savor more, as if LaCava and I were in conversation. While much of this novel worked for me, it isn't a perfect memoir.  Readers wanting a cohesive narrative and accounting of time will be disappointed, I suspect. There is a very strong sense of distance between LaCava and the reader, perhaps an echo of the distance she feels from others. The narrative jumps from 1996 -- when she's 13 -- to 2009, and I found that a bit jarring. Toward the end, LaCava shifts from a self-introspective accounting of time to replaying conversations between herself and others which didn't always work for me.  (In the seven-page vignette where she meets a former classmate, the conversation circles mostly around how pretty she is, and touching lightly upon a kind of throw away mystery from earlier.)  I found LaCava seemed to need to punish herself for her debilitating depression -- she remarks in a 2009 vignette about how selfish she was, and in a later 2011 vignette, she quotes her mother as saying the same thing. It broke my heart a little, for however 'badly' LaCava might have behaved as a girl-almost-a-teen, she obviously needed help. Moody doesn't equal selfish in my book and I don't know if she felt as if she had to make 'amends' to people in her life for her depression, but it made me angry on her behalf. I wouldn't recommend this exactly as an armchair escape to Paris -- while LaCava shares a passion for certain places, she evokes some strongly while others sort of just float in the background. As a memoir of a time and a place, of one person's pain, this is lovely, sad, moving, and odd.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    This book is a differently and originally written type of memoir. Moving to Paris as a child, Stephanie feels a strong disconnect to her own life and emotions. Objects, which had always been important to her, become even more so as she uses them to feel a connection to life. She collects archaic facts and figures about people and objects and these also help to fill in the void. Quite a different and inventive way to deal with her loneliness and subsequent depression. I love trivia, and O found t This book is a differently and originally written type of memoir. Moving to Paris as a child, Stephanie feels a strong disconnect to her own life and emotions. Objects, which had always been important to her, become even more so as she uses them to feel a connection to life. She collects archaic facts and figures about people and objects and these also help to fill in the void. Quite a different and inventive way to deal with her loneliness and subsequent depression. I love trivia, and O found the footnotes and pictures in this book wonderful. So many little factoids; that one out of every three bugs is a beetle, the meaning and poisonous qualities of lilies of the valley, the importance and history of rings and bangles and so much more. Also a unique way of showing the reader how her mind was working in its attempt to survive. I gave this book 4 stars because it isn't your usual type of whoa is me, abusive childhood type of memoir and for the unique way in which it is presented.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was an interesting little book. A memoir about the author's time that she lived in France with her family as an early adolescent. She struggles with depression and she collects objects that she finds interesting and surrounds herself with these objects as well as facts, lists, etc. in an effort to make sense of her life and the people in it. I think there is a heavier message than this book was able to convey and it did not appear to me that the author learned all that much about herself (as This was an interesting little book. A memoir about the author's time that she lived in France with her family as an early adolescent. She struggles with depression and she collects objects that she finds interesting and surrounds herself with these objects as well as facts, lists, etc. in an effort to make sense of her life and the people in it. I think there is a heavier message than this book was able to convey and it did not appear to me that the author learned all that much about herself (aside from the revelation that she was depressed). It was almost like there were 2 different books happening simultaneously - one about a young American girl's experience living in France and the other about someone suffering from depression - as a result, this little book lived up to neither expectation. I did, however, enjoy all the little footnotes. I love books with added tidbits of information thrown in...even if they do nothing to further the story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pammie

    Angsty teenaged girl living in Paris. From an adult standpoint, this is enough to make me throw my hands in the air in disgust, but I can understand how Stephanie would feel isolated, especially given the bullying she was subjected to at school. It isn't easy being an awkward teen, and being in Paris living an upper-class privileged life wouldn't make much difference to a kid. The other kids at her school were execrable, her parents distant and clueless, and she's lucky she had the strength to a Angsty teenaged girl living in Paris. From an adult standpoint, this is enough to make me throw my hands in the air in disgust, but I can understand how Stephanie would feel isolated, especially given the bullying she was subjected to at school. It isn't easy being an awkward teen, and being in Paris living an upper-class privileged life wouldn't make much difference to a kid. The other kids at her school were execrable, her parents distant and clueless, and she's lucky she had the strength to avoid drugs/suicide. But she didn't give enough information on how she deals with her depression as an adult, she's gone back to Paris to rub salt in her old wounds, and I'm just left with a lot of confusion. Is she OK or not? It got kind of rambling.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    I was originally drawn to the gorgeous presentation including footnotes, illustrations, and even the fragmented essay structure. Also, many of us can relate with assigning almost sacred meaning to objects in our adolescence as a way to construct our own context and place ourselves inside it. The theme and structure were both very appealing to me. My issue with this text is that the author insists on her "strangeness" and "uniqueness" (as if we didn't all experience depression and loneliness in o I was originally drawn to the gorgeous presentation including footnotes, illustrations, and even the fragmented essay structure. Also, many of us can relate with assigning almost sacred meaning to objects in our adolescence as a way to construct our own context and place ourselves inside it. The theme and structure were both very appealing to me. My issue with this text is that the author insists on her "strangeness" and "uniqueness" (as if we didn't all experience depression and loneliness in our adolescence). I guess this is accurate, since existing in the American 1% is unique; unfortunately this is not the rare experience that elicits very much sympathy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Self-indulgent and awkward essays about teenage depression and obsession. Don't get it based on the Paris setting. One gets the feeling Paris was thoroughly wasted on this poor girl. The objects she collects are not especially interesting, nor are the little mini-histories. If you want to read an amazingly well-written book on little objects, a book that is truly extraordinary, try The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss. Self-indulgent and awkward essays about teenage depression and obsession. Don't get it based on the Paris setting. One gets the feeling Paris was thoroughly wasted on this poor girl. The objects she collects are not especially interesting, nor are the little mini-histories. If you want to read an amazingly well-written book on little objects, a book that is truly extraordinary, try The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss.

  19. 5 out of 5

    bonnie

    A very lovely memoir through objects & curiosities, Stephanie LaCava takes her vulnerabilities & inner wonder, performs alchemy & creates a wonderous tale of whimsy that is relatable to any whom have also felt this same disconnectedness from the rest of the world. A fragile work of inner strength & imagination.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Check out my review at my blog, Conceptual Reception: http://bit.ly/Xi0rS3 Check out my review at my blog, Conceptual Reception: http://bit.ly/Xi0rS3

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I’d been looking for this book for a while because I remembered reading it but couldn’t find the title. In the process of searching (fruitlessly) for another book i came across advice to just google as many keywords about the book as you can remember so I decided to try that with this one and it worked. So the actual review - I hated this book. I loved the footnotes and illustrations; those are exactly the kind of features I enjoy in books. But the author was whiny and pretentious. More importan I’d been looking for this book for a while because I remembered reading it but couldn’t find the title. In the process of searching (fruitlessly) for another book i came across advice to just google as many keywords about the book as you can remember so I decided to try that with this one and it worked. So the actual review - I hated this book. I loved the footnotes and illustrations; those are exactly the kind of features I enjoy in books. But the author was whiny and pretentious. More importantly, she glamorizes the depression and anorexia she dealt with as a teen and never resolves how she came to deal with them as an adult or if she even got better at all. It’s a completely irresponsible way to discuss mental illness. There is no further depth to the issue than, “boys didn’t like me so I ruined my life but now I’m a famous-ish fashion writer aren’t I cool” without analyzing why she felt that way and the culture of misogyny that creates these problems for teen girls. It is marketed towards adults but since the character is a teen it would likely be given to teens, as was the case for me - it did not affect me negatively as I was able to see the issues but many teens are susceptible to this kind of surface-level glamorization of mental illness. It’s disappointing because as I said the premise was intriguing - cataloging objects to tell the story of your life. But the story that was told was something the author probably still needed to be working on dealing with rather than throwing out into the hands of the public. To be fully clear, I am not saying it is irresponsible to write about mental illness. In fact, it’s very important to do so WELL. But this way of talking about it is dangerous.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Megan Stupi

    This was a whimsical approach to a memoir that was a quick read. I think it was important to read the epilogue to actually understand what LaCava's 'extraordinary theory' was. The book reads very quickly, so it was hard for me to spend time really reflecting on the objects she chose to focus on. I did appreciate that LaCava shared her experience of not having the rosiest time in France. So many people travel abroad and emphasize the sheer glamour of it all and LaCava points to a more realistic p This was a whimsical approach to a memoir that was a quick read. I think it was important to read the epilogue to actually understand what LaCava's 'extraordinary theory' was. The book reads very quickly, so it was hard for me to spend time really reflecting on the objects she chose to focus on. I did appreciate that LaCava shared her experience of not having the rosiest time in France. So many people travel abroad and emphasize the sheer glamour of it all and LaCava points to a more realistic perspective of how hard it can be when you are trying to grow up in a place where you do not feel as if you fit in. Four stars because of the good quality of writing and interesting perspective. It loses that last star because the format of the book allows you to fly through it and not feel the weight of the life event she is discussing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Schemehorn

    This was an unusual read, chiefly because it seemed to have everything that good memoir has. LaCava uses an event or theme to frame the work, initially using her collection, and also an extended depressive episode she experienced at the age of 13. Neither of those themes, however, remained consistent. Or in any case, information was missing about the evolution of her collection(s) and the time in her adolescence to which she alludes. I can understand that it is absolutely the writer's right to w This was an unusual read, chiefly because it seemed to have everything that good memoir has. LaCava uses an event or theme to frame the work, initially using her collection, and also an extended depressive episode she experienced at the age of 13. Neither of those themes, however, remained consistent. Or in any case, information was missing about the evolution of her collection(s) and the time in her adolescence to which she alludes. I can understand that it is absolutely the writer's right to withhold events or detain that she doesn't want to revisit for the sake of her work, but for this specific work, it was the point. As the reader, I feel left out of several aspects of her personal story. It was not wholly unsuccessful; her voice was clear, and her vulnerability transparent and accessible. I didn't get lost in time jumps, and on a micro-level the individual stories well told.

  24. 4 out of 5

    kaitlin

    ok so i really wanted to like this book. unfortunately, i just could not. i really tried to ignore the format of the footnotes and main text being cut off so flipping pages becomes extra complicated. if that was one of the main points of the book, could they not have spent some time thinking about the readability of this? secondly, i found the author to be increasingly unlikable. i don’t know. i feel bad shitting on somebody’s memoir, but i would not recommend this book to anyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Karalius

    I loved the writing style and the snippets (and illustrations of the objects), but I was disappointed that the book wasn’t longer. We skipped over some critical parts (like, how did she begin healing from her depression and anxiety? Since we wanted a lover so badly, why aren’t we told how she met Will? How did she fall into her current profession?). So when I reached the epilogue, I wasn’t sure I could believe the ending is a happy one, with a positive turn.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ray Carroll

    The consistently verbose footnotes ruins any semblance of pacing this book might have otherwise had. The disjointed nature of the “objects” LaCava chooses to expound upon (I put object in quotes because the objects in question are, on more than one occasion, people) make it impossible for any unifying “theory” to shine through. Luckily a short read - anything more arduous and it wouldn’t have been worth finishing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Patrice

    I borrowed this from the library. It was a bit dull, but I did finish it. I rarely finish books that I'm not enjoying. It was a quiet short book, and passed some time peacefully but it wasn't particularly interesting. I borrowed this from the library. It was a bit dull, but I did finish it. I rarely finish books that I'm not enjoying. It was a quiet short book, and passed some time peacefully but it wasn't particularly interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    I loved the beginning, but the book started to drop off into self pity and obsession. I would have liked it more if the end stage of realizing past selfishness was dispersed through out the book. It was beautifully written, but the content sometimes lagged.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Colette Walters Walden

    Enjoyed. Checked it out from the library.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I originally rated this as 5/10 on my blog in 2013, so I'm rounding up to 3 stars. I barely remember reading this, so that should tell you what you need to know. I originally rated this as 5/10 on my blog in 2013, so I'm rounding up to 3 stars. I barely remember reading this, so that should tell you what you need to know.

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