Book Review: Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty

Finding Cassie Crazy (Ashbury/Brookfield, #2)

Title: Finding Cassie Crazy (Ashbury /Brookfield #2)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Epistolary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: November 2003
Pages: 383
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Told entirely through letters, diary entries, emails, and other writing, Moriarty’s novel introduces us to Emily, Lydia, and Cassie — all students at Ashbury High — who begin writing to their Brookfield High counterparts through the schools’ organized pen pal project. Readers learn quickly that each girl has her own writing style and that at two of the Brookfield boys (Seb and Charlie) seem to be smitten with Lydia and Emily. The only trouble is Cassie’s pen pal, Matthew, a shady character who first sends her short, threatening letters and then becomes strangely sweet toward her. Nobody can figure out why Cassie keeps writing to him, but after she has a crushing meet-up with Matthew, Cassie discovers — with the help of her friends and the Brookfield guys — that he hasn’t been honest about his identity. All could be ended there, but when Charlie helps take revenge and Brookfield High gets mysteriously vandalized, the group comes together to deliver justice and save the endangered pen pal project.

This book is also published under the title: The Year of Secret Assignments

My Review:

Mr Botherit is at it again with his attempt to join Ashbury and Brookfield through a pen pal project. Trying to engage his year ten class with the Joy of the Envelope, Finding Cassie Crazy is an epistolary novel featuring best friends Lydia, Cassie and Emily. Diary entries, letters and the odd noticeboard announcement tell the story of Lydia’s secret agent adventures, Emily’s dating coach advice and how Cassie is keeping it all together after losing her father to cancer a year ago.

What I liked most about Finding Cassie Crazy was how different and distinct the characters were through their writing. Emily is the girl with stars in her eyes and has a unique gift of making up words. As as self-appointed girl guru, she’s not shy in giving pen pal Charlie advice on dating. Lydia is both creative and sarcastic. She plans on becoming a writer and comes up with brilliant secret assignments for the girls – and Brookfield pen pal Seb – to complete. Poor Cassie gets stuck with Matthew as her writing buddy – but she perseveres and doesn’t let threats or creepy love letters dissuade her from writing back. Moriarty interwove the stories fantastically and there was never a doubt as to which one of her characters was writing at any time throughout the novel. The guest appearances of Elizabeth and Christina from Feeling Sorry for Celia was a bonus!

As unique as the girls are from each other – there’s also a definite strength in their friendship. They are their own people and yet, when it matters most, they’re there for each other. Whether it be breaking into a teacher’s car, painting over hideous orange walls or getting revenge and justice for one of their own – despite their difference they share a deep bond.

After reading (and loving) Feeling Sorry for Celia, I was thrilled to have enjoyed Finding Cassie Crazy just as much. Moriarty’s style is so much fun to read and I loved the mixture of fun, romance, mystery and friendship that was combined to make up the plot.  

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon || Book Depository

Book Review: Feeling Sorry For Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

I thought that after I was RAVING about this book I better try and get my feelings down in a somewhat coherent review.

Title: Feeling Sorry For Celia (Ashbury High #1)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Epistolary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: May 2000
Pages: 288
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope,” a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.

But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter…

A #1 bestseller in Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of letters, messages, postcards—and bizarre missives from imaginary organizations like The Cold Hard Truth Association.

Feeling Sorry for Celia captures, with rare acuity, female friendship and the bonding and parting that occurs as we grow. Jaclyn Moriarty’s hilariously candid novel shows that the roller coaster ride of being a teenager is every bit as fun as we remember—and every bit as harrowing.

My Review:

Feeling Sorry for Celia is a story told though letters and notes – both real and imagined in Liz’s head showing a very small snapshot of what life is like for somewhat typical Australian teenage girl. A scatter-minded yet well-meaning single mother, absent father and a best friend who runs away to join the circus are all parts of Liz’s life but somehow she keeps it all together.

Liz is a great narrator as such. Most of the letters within this novel are letters to her from organizations such as The Association of Teenagers. And then there’s Christina – the pen pal Liz’s teacher assigns her from a local high school. I loved the letters exchanged between these two. They’re honest and random and yet perfect. This is one of those books that make me remember just how much I love reading books set in Australia by Australian authors. There are things so intrinsically HERE about this book – things that I can’t even describe to people from overseas and yet I feel like other Aussies would know exactly what I’m talking about. I could relate to Liz in a way that feels bizarre consider how little we have in common and yet I felt like this book was a window into my teenage soul. Oh my… that sounds a little trite but I’m keeping it in because that’s exactly how I feel. 

One of my favourite things about this book is how relevant it still is. This book may have been first published over thirteen years ago but you wouldn’t know it. The concept of letter writing makes perfect sense within the constructs of this novel and I never once thought that the addition of technological advancements (such as email or text messaging) would have added anything extra to the novel.

This is a great novel that I can imagine appealing to young and old – and I can’t wait to make a trip to my nearest library and check out the rest of the books in this series!

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Depository