Title: What Things Mean
Author: Sophia N. Lee
Publication: May 2016 by Scholastic
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
FOR OLIVE GUERRERO, DIFFERENT IS MORE THAN JUST A WORD.
What does it mean to be different? 14-year-old Olive is struggling to find out. Everything about her is so different from the rest of her family. She is big-haired, brown skinned, and clumsy in a family of cream-colored beauties who are all popular and Good At Sports. She closely resembles a father she has never known, and about whom her mother never speaks, and no one wants to tell her why. She turns to books and other things in her quest to find answers, and as a way to cope with her loneliness. When she learns the truth about her father, she must decide whether or not she will let the differences in her life define her forever.
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What Things Mean is something that I like and dislike at the same time. It’s too plain for a book for me, having such a simple story with simple characters. That is what actually what I also like about the book; it’s a sweet escape from surreality and fantasy. It is not a book that will excite nor amaze you, but it’s a book wherein the protagonist’s story is merely narrated.
The short book utilizes dictionary terms to introduce a new chapter. Every word correlates with the life of Olive, the protagonist. Every chapter bring a brief story of her life. Olive, having been the different one in the family, struggles to become like her family. To overcome her sadness, she does anything that will bring optimism to herself. Then, she learns about a father she has never known and she has become curious to know.
“You are beautiful in all the ways that matter. You don’t need all of this to show that. Nothing you put on your face can cover what already shines through — your good heart, your giving spirit, your sense of humour — it’s what you’re made of.”
In regards with the writing style, it is a bit dull and ordinary. There is nothing really special about it, but nonetheless, it is absolutely an easy read because of its simplicity in writing. It is a beauty I longingly desire to read due to the fact that I often read books that are too complex in their writing style.
The story itself can sometimes become boring, and I do not get the other chapters’ correlation with the story itself. Considering its shortness, it is a great book because the author executed this short of a book with a limited space of elaborating more. Somehow, some stories feel like missing, and I really hope that they would be fleshed out in a sense, so that I could get the whole point of the book.
“The thing about mirrors is that they show you everything — even the things you don’t want to see.”
The book fails to make me connected with Olive. She is a great character with an emotional background, but it does not completely feel like there’s something really going on in the story. Sometimes, it becomes baffling, and I wish that it could have been longer. Descriptions are too concise that I have never had a good connection with the characters. Details like emotions could be taken into consideration because of its simple and interesting plot line, but because of the lacking details, I begin to lose interest with the book as I continued reading. Still, this book is one of the best short reads that I read.
3 swords for a short yet meaningful book.
About the author:
Sophia N. Lee wanted to be many things growing up: doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all these things through writing. She loves words and the meanings behind them. Her favorite word is ‘chance’. What Things Mean is her first book. She lives in Manila, Philippines.
What’s the shortest book that you’ve read? Comment below and let’s talk about it.