Hello Book Nerds!
January is keeping me busy and I LOVE it! So many amazing books to read and so many new titles to look out for.
Today is my stop for the blog tour of Furious Thing hosted by The FFBC and I am so thankful that I got to read such an important book and discovered a new voice in YA fiction.
Bad things happen when you’re around, Lex…
That’s what her stepfather tells her. That’s what she believes about herself.
But how can she convince herself and everyone around her that her anger doesn’t make her a monster? If only she could stop losing her temper and behave herself, her stepfather would accept her, her mom would love her like she used to, and her stepbrother would declare his crushing desire to spend the rest of his life with her. She wants these things so badly, she’s determined to swallow her anger and make her family proud.
But pushing fury down doesn’t make it disappear. Instead, it simmers below the surface, waiting to erupt. There’ll be fireworks when it does…
An intensely real story of manipulation and identity, Furious Thing is about the slippery slope of manipulation and how one girl can fight to claim back the spaces that belong to her.
Trigger Warnings: Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Mental and Emotional Abuse, Gaslighting, Bullying
While Furious Thing is not Jenny Downham’s first book, it is my first time discovering her. I’ll definitely look into Jenny’s other books, especially, Before I Die, because I loved her voice, her writing style and mostly importantly the way she portrayed the characters.
Furious Thing was such an emotional book for me because I could relate to the setting as well the main character so much so that I felt it was my story. The great thing about this book is that it can’t be contained within the YA genre only. This is an important book that need to be read by adults as much as by young people.
Families aren’t perfect, especially, Asian families. If you are someone who belongs to an Asian family, I think you would understand the inequality in both physical and emotional power balance that works in our families even better. While Downham’s book doesn’t feature an Asian family, it definitely incorporates the elements of one such imperfect family, imperfect in the sense that Alexandra (Lex), the main protagonist, has to counter the emotional manipulation and subjugation with her inconsistent anger.
In society, girls are always taught to be submissive, attentive to others and always look pretty. Dare she act out of the stereotypical roles, she is reminded to “mind her place”. In the novel, Lex goes out of her way to subvert the traditional rules of a “good girl”. She is rebellious, mouthy, and angry. Furious and filled with rage. Her wildness gets her into trouble all the time but she can’t figure out whom/what her anger is directed towards. She is misunderstood by her family and friends and feels lonely and bereft inside because she feels she can’t reach out to anyone.
Gaslighting is a very sensitive issue that often times goes unchecked. In families, the teenagers or the younger ones are controlled by the adults to some extent. Often times, these young and bright people are forced to accept some choices because their parents want them to or with reasons such as “what would the society think” (appropriate for Indian families).
Downham deals with this issue but she doesn’t provide an ultimate solution and neither does she portray Lex as someone who is “tamed” in the end. Someone who suddenly stops all her tantrums and becomes obedient. Instead the author directs our attention towards understanding children and promotes the inculcation of healthy familial bonding through her novel.
I had such a difficult time summing up my thoughts about this book because it was such an emotional journey for me. Lex is one of us. I could see myself in her character and to face the reality which I have lived through was difficult.
I urge you all to read this book. Share it with your friends and family. Talk about it in your educational institutions and discuss it with your teachers. This book needs to be read and Lex’s story needs to heard.
NOTE: I didn’t see any of the Trigger Warnings mentioned in the book blurb or in the e-copy. But since I read an Uncorrected Proof Copy I can’t comment on the Final Copy. I really really hope that the publisher has included the trigger warnings in the final copy. This book is inherently disturbing and I feel readers need to know what they are getting themselves into before they choose to read it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Photo Credit: Barker Evans Photography
Jenny Downham is a critically acclaimed, international bestseller. Her debut novel,Before I Die, was shortlisted for numerous awards in the UK, including the Guardian Award and the Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the Branford Boase Award. Before I Die was turned into a movie called Now is Good starring Dakota Fanning in 2012. Her most recent novel, Unbecoming, garnered four starred reviews and was an Entertainment Weekly Must List pick. Jenny lives in London with her two sons.
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