Title: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Author: Melissa Keil
Genre: contemporary YA
Date Read: 25/09/2015 – 26/09/2015
I don’t normally read contemporary YA; teenagers being teenagers and doing normal teenage things and having normal teenage dramas doesn’t really interest me. But look at that cover. I had to pick it up. And I loved it.
Alba is an aspiring comic book artist from a small Australian town who has just finished school and, just like the rest of her friends, is wondering what comes next. Her best friend can’t wait to get out and move to the city, and several of her other friends are also leaving. But Alba’s happy working in her mum’s bakery, and scared of leaving everything she knows. Oh, and thanks to a viral YouTube video, dooms-dayers everywhere believe that the world is coming to an end and that Alba’s town of Eden Valley is the Last Safe Place, so they’re flocking there. Basically, everything is changing, and Alba’s not sure if she likes it.
I kept muttering “This is so Australian” under my breath as I read this book. I grew up in small-town Australia and this book captures the feel of those small towns immensely. While my experience doesn’t exactly mirror Alba’s, it felt incredibly relatable, partially because of those similar experiences.
Alba herself is fantastically written. For starters, she’s a plus-size heroine, but this is not a plot-point; it is merely mentioned and then she moves on. She’s a very rambly narrator, and actually nerdy/geeky/dorky, unlike a lot of YA heroes, who I feel authors kind of want to make “nerdy”, but only insofar as to make them “quirky”. Alba would have easily fitted in among my group of school friends, and I have a feeling Melissa Keil would have, too. I don’t know much about comics, but it was clear that Keil does.
Alba’s friends all have distinct personalities, and I loved the way they all interact with one another. In a city environment, they may not have really been friends, but that’s one thing about small towns: you befriend the people who are there. And thanks to the style of the narration, you feel like you are part of their group. Their Christmas traditions feel like they’ve been going on for years, and their fears and desires for the coming months and years are all incredibly real.
The only thing I was a bit disappointed with, and this is the reason for 4.5 stars rather than 5, was the romance. I won’t say who Alba ends up with, because there are a couple of possibilities and I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that I had hoped that they would be able to just figure out their issues and remain friends, rather than it becoming romantic. I had assumed for three-quarters of the book that they would stay platonic, and I actually really liked it that way.
That was my only qualm, and I think I’m going to go and look up Melissa Keil’s other book, Life in Outer Space. It sounds like it has a similar feel, and would be just as adorable.