Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Release date: 2001 UK
Genre: Contemporary teen life, teen romance, YA, teen issues
Target audience: 12+
Summary 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....
Feeling Sorry for Celia is the comic yet touching story of Elizabeth Clarry. The whole novel is told through letters to and from Elizabeth. The inventive Mr Botherit -- Elizabeth's English teacher -- sets the class an assignment. They must write to a stranger at the local state school. Elizabeth muses over the fact that this is Mr Botherit's way of hanging on to the dark age of envelopes but he is also aiming to forge ties between the young people at Ashbury High and those at Broomfield. Elizabeth's very witty letters immediately pull you into the story. Her voice is addictive. I read this book in one sitting. I just did not want to put it down.
Elizabeth's first letter to a stranger happens to be given to Christina. At first it seems the girls may be opposites. Elizabeth detests porridge with a passion. Christina loves it. Could it be that their letter-exchange will never get over this insurmountable hurdle? Thankfully, no. One should not judge a person on their feeling towards what constitutes an appropriate breakfast. The exchange of letters between Elizabeth and Christina reveals the differing challenges of their lives. Elizabeth is an only child. She is just starting to develop a relationship with her estranged father. At home she spends a lot of time alone as her mum works late but they have a very touching relationship. Christina is the eldest of five children. She loves her siblings and spends much time being responsible for them but sharing her room with her younger sister leaves her with little privacy. Each girl can see the attraction and the pitfalls of the other's life.
Elizabeth is burdened by the worry of her best friend Celia's disappearance. Celia has had a liberal upbringing which lacks boundaries. She has a tendency to disappear when the mood takes her and go off on great adventures. This time when Celia disappears she doesn't let even Elizabeth know where she is and so Elizabeth is understnadably worried. Celia is a flighty and selfish character. Christina's best friend Maddie is a love-struck girl who falls in love with any boy at the blink of an eyelid and then convinces them that they should run away together. It wears Christina down to see her friend so utterly self-absorbed and ruthless when it comes to her conquests.
Both Elizabeth and Christina share their worries and their personal dilemmas through the letters. They offer each other support without ever giving the other advice. Intermingled with their letters are various letters to Elizabeth from different associations. The Cold Hard Truth Association tell her frankly that the boy she likes is way above her level. The Society of Teenagers tell her she will never find a place with them because she has never kissed a boy or had a boyfriend. They are a hilarious addition to the novel and add some light relief to the sad and poignant story that is the missing Celia and the general coming to terms with the highs and lows of teenage relationships.
Feeling Sorry for Celia is a novel which gets to the heart of teenage worries, relationships and most importantly friendships. This novel is a journey which makes you care deeply about what happens to the main characters. At times it is highly amusing. I completely related to Elizabeth's voice. At times it is sad. People are so naturally self-absorbed. At other times it warms the heart. Friendship can heal even the deepest wounds. Every page is filled with teenage truth. I absolutely loved this book. I want to write like Jaclyn Moriarty. She is a genius. I feel all squishy inside when I think about this book. This one is a keeper!