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My Not-So-Still Life

3.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  264 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Vanessa is wise beyond her years. She's never really fit in at school, where all the kids act and dress the same. She's an artist who expresses her talent in the wacky colors she dyes her hair, her makeup and clothes. She's working on her biggest art project, and counting the days until she's grown up and can really start living. That adult world seems closer when Vanessa ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Wendy Lamb Books
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4th out of 41 books — 9 voters
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2nd out of 31 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

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Apr 17, 2011 Kelly rated it it was ok

This book will have appeal for the artist types who don't feel like they belong. I think there's also appeal for more reluctant readers, since it's short and a quick read.

For me, though, Vanessa was never a fully developed character and a lot of what she did seemed really young and immature for a sophomore in high school. I know that's the point, but I would have appreciated her better as a younger character -- 7th or 8th grade -- but that wouldn't have worked in the context of the sexual si
Page Turners Blog
Jul 11, 2011 Page Turners Blog rated it it was ok
My Not-So-Still Life is a companion book for The Opposite of Invisible - I was unaware that it was a companion book and felt like I was missing something while reading My Not-So-Still Life. I would advise reading The Opposite of Invisible first; maybe it will help understand what happen with Vanessa and Jewel; that relationship is basically the catalyst for Vanessa's behavior in My Not-So-Still Life.

My Not-So-Still Life is told from Vanessa's point of view - she is an artist and like most artis
Luann Schindler
Jan 07, 2012 Luann Schindler rated it it was ok
Ever read a book that's trying too hard to make a point, but it never comes full circle (because the resolution is oh-so-common sense?
This is it.
The MC is completely so self-absorbed, I'm not sure she could find her way out of a box. Harsh, yes.
The main reason I have trouble with this book is that there's no twist. There's nothing that sets this book about teen angst apart from others I've read. She wants to hurry up and grow up. Don't most teens?
That said, I did like the fact that it incorpora
This was a bit meh!
There are no surprises in the story line and everything came to a conclusion just as I expected.
In addition the book manages to combine two of my least favourite tropes from YA and chick-lit: over-enthusiastic misunderstanding of everything going on around you and endless listing of the protagonist's sartorial choices.
I couldn't like the protagonist and there were so many cliches and clunky descriptions it seemed like the author had as much trouble expressing the main characte
Dec 31, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
This was one of those books that, personally, felt as if it had no real content to it. It was a book that I simply went through the motions of reading but didn’t really connect with anyone or anything in the book. It was a quick read but I think I wasted my time reading it because, to be perfectly honest, there was no reason for this book to exist. There was no content, the characters were useless, and basically there was nothing going for this book. I feel like I am being way too brutal with th ...more
Aug 23, 2011 Erica rated it liked it
My Not-So-Still Life was an interesting read for me. I don’t really have that huge of an opinion about it, there were some things I liked and some things that I wasn’t as crazy about, with all the pieces falling in at about a perfect center.

I really liked Liz Gallagher’s writing, it was beautiful prose. Some of her descriptions got a bit lengthy though. I felt like so much of the book was Vanessa’s descriptions, which made sense, as she is an artist and I feel would see the world that way.

Not a
Apr 17, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it
Summary: Vanessa is ready to be an adult, although you might not be able to see that from her appearance—bright pink hair and vibrant clothing. She has friends her own age, but is captivated by the people she meets while working at Palette, her local art store. Vanessa takes steps to become more independent and adult-like, but is she growing up too fast?

My thoughts: The narrator and protagonist of My Not-So-Still Life, Vanessa, is a perfect portrait of a restless teen. She has things she’s good
Apr 15, 2014 Nancy rated it it was ok
This is a quick read and I found the story to be very relevant. Vanessa is the girl you know. She wants to be identified as someone. She wants to be herself but doesn't know who she is. She identifies with some form of fashion statement and colors her hair according to her mood. She wears a colored string according to her mood. She's ready for the next big thing which is nebulous but it's definitely not high school.

Vanessa gets a job at an art store and identifies with some of the characters th
Nov 15, 2015 Bella rated it it was amazing
Vanessa is a young girl who can't wait till school is over and she can be in the real word. While everyone else is living their age, Vanessa try's to act older, getting a job, planning what type of tattoos she wants to get and hanging out with older people. That's why Vanessa is astatic when she places a job at her favorite art store. Vanessa has her whole life planned out and she knows who she is, or does she? Someone would want to read this book because it's cool to see how Vanessa changes thr ...more
Feb 09, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
My Not-So-Still Life is the story of an average teenager, who is ready to grow up, do important things, and who feels stuck in high school. Vanessa wants to be different, unique and wants to explore the person she really is. Which in her case, is dying her hair crazy bright colors, wearing bold makeup and dressing up like no one around her does.

Vanessa finds high school completely useless, and finally wants to go out in the world and do something that has purpose; for her that's art! Its seems l
Brigette Helton
Jul 17, 2015 Brigette Helton rated it liked it
This book was short but still good. I think it showed good emotion for what a teenager could be going through. Many teenagers are in such a rush to grow up & have things change like the protagonist Vanessa in this book. Some of the emotions she was feeling I could relate to right now with what I am going through myself as a senior college student. I think it has good lessons in it so I will be keeping it for my future classroom if I teach older students.
Vanessa may have been wise beyond her years but she was such a snotty main character! That hoity-toity attitude she had about those who are not artistic individuals like her was hard to stomach.
If she had been more down-to-earth about being different, I could have progressed with the book. But she wasn't, which made me dislike her, in turn making me not bother with the book anymore.
Jul 14, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok
Gallagher's writing is pedestrian, and Vanessa is a pill.
Jayla Johnson
Sep 23, 2014 Jayla Johnson rated it did not like it
The book was pretty boring, to be honest.
Jun 12, 2011 Madiebabii97 rated it it was ok
Booorriinngg. End of story.
I loved Liz Gallagher's first novel, The Opposite of Invisible. I gobbled it up - I read it in one day. However, I was a little bit disappointed with this novel.

I didn't have a problem connecting with the characters. I connected with all the main characters and could understand where they were coming from when they were talking. That wasn't a problem.

The other thing I didn't have a problem with was the setting. The setting was wonderfully described and I could picture it clearly in my head as I
May 18, 2011 Britta rated it liked it
I enjoyed My Not-So-Still Life quite a bit. It was a really quick read filled with humor and interesting insights of life.

This novel follows Vanessa, a teenage girl who, instead of trying to fit in, has tried to stand out. She is constantly changing her hair color, she wears a colored string on her wrist to depict her mood (purple is the best, black, which comes after red, is the worst) and she is on a never-ending search to define herself in the artistic world. She can’t wait until she graduate
Jun 24, 2011 Saba rated it really liked it
Just finished this today, and I loved it. I feel like the conflicts faced by the main character represent a lot of teenagers who, sometimes and to varying degrees, feel kind of trapped by their environment (hello). Vanessa might be a bit of an extreme case, with her insistence on standing out and being a walking work of art and her general impatience with all things high school, but I guess sometimes that's what it takes for the author to really convey a message strongly. I also loved how art- t ...more
Ashley (Bookaholics Anonymous)
This is basically a story of how Vanessa learns that growing up to fast may not always be the best thing, and just being who you are is sometimes the best feeling you can have.

I can't say that I got to much out of this story. I wasn't really interested in the characters, or what was going on with them. If I'm going to love a story I have to be able to love the characters as well, and not just the story. If that doesn't happen then the story better be full of awesomeness. At times I thought Vane
Jun 21, 2011 Midnite rated it it was ok
I loved Liz Gallagher's first novel, The Opposite of Invisible, and have been looking forward to reading something new by her. I was disappointed when I learned her next book would be a companion novel featuring Vanessa, a minor character from Opposite. Vanessa played an interesting role in The Opposite of Invisible as the girl Jewel starts to date while his best friend Alice (Opposite's narrator) dates a cute boy in their class. But she was also "the other woman" to me. The girl I couldn't root ...more
Mariama Konneh
Jul 18, 2011 Mariama Konneh rated it liked it
I think this Book is a great adventure into the life of a not so average teenager who looks at her life and the world as a big canvas waiting to be painted by her!!! This book even though using simplistic words is a young adult novel that i think the artist, the undefined, and the searching for their identity teenager would enjoy. This book showes the growing up process of Vannessa who's eager to get out into the world and become an adult so she can be the master of her own destiny. But along th ...more
I read "The Opposite of Invisible" before reading this, so her references to Jewel and Alice made sense. I liked knowing who Vanessa was after getting to know Alice in the previous book. I also liked that it gave a sense of continuity to life and was a reminder that every person thinks differently. So yes, I thought it was genius to write about two characters whose lives once intertwined but don't anymore, while acknowledging each of their existences in overlapping settings.

In terms of the voice
Steph Su
May 15, 2011 Steph Su rated it liked it
Shelves: wtf-covers
I read Liz Gallagher’s first book, The Opposite of Invisible, and fell in love with her sparse but powerful and relatable prose. Therefore, I went into Liz’s second book, MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE, with great anticipation. Perhaps a little too much—for while MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE is a solid addition to the YA contemporary genre, it didn’t have the lasting emotional impact I had found in The Opposite of Invisible.

Given a few allowances, I think that Vanessa is a very relatable protagonist. She’s an art
Apr 25, 2016 Sara rated it liked it
I think I got this book because I liked the artistic part of it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I liked it. I'm starting to read more realistic books, but I am still a fantasy lover at heart. I enjoyed this book because it reminded me of how I felt about photography when I was a student. It also reminded me of how i felt as a teenager. I was similar to this character in the way my mind worked at that age. I wanted to live more when I finished high school and started college though. I was very ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Phoebe rated it it was ok
Though it does have a few warm moments, I wouldn't recommend this book. The main character, Vanessa, is not endearing or particularly sensible for most of the book, and I only really finished it because I figured, "eh. May as well."
Shanyn (Chick Loves Lit)
The biggest problem I had with My Not-So-Still Life was with the main character, Vanessa, which unfortunately is a huge issue and hard to overcome. While I did like that she enjoyed art (and, subsequently, that she got to work in an art store), I did not like her poor decision making in attempts to drastically change her life. She wants to be older, wants to be seen as mature and not as a high schooler. I identified with some of her feelings (as I'm sure most high schoolers do at some point), bu ...more
May 22, 2013 Danielle rated it liked it
The book my not so still life takes place in a lot of settings for example, an art store and a house. The main charchter Is a 16 year old named Vannesa. She is also my favorite charchter. This book is about Vannesa and she is not considerd normal because she has pink hair. In the begaing she releizes that she will never be normal. Than in the middle of the book all she wants to do is grow up. Than in the last part of the book her friends worry that the guy she meet is not the right guy for her a ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Sabrina rated it liked it
It was overall good, but it was confusing at certain times and I felt that the author rushed to finish the novel. It also seemed that the author wasn't detailed enough, and I felt that the author should have done something regarding Jewel, Vanessa's ex boyfriend because the last time he was mentioned or really talked about was when Vanessa was in the thrift shop. I also disliked that there was such a quick romance between James and Vanessa, it was almost like the author just threw it in there. L ...more
Sep 19, 2011 StorySnoops rated it liked it
My Not-So-Still Life is a quick read that will be appreciated by any teen girl who has felt that she is in a hurry to just get past high school, where she doesn't really fit in. This is the companion book to The Opposite of Invisible, which it may be helpful (but not necessary) to read to understand Vanessa's background and motivations. Artistic types will enjoy Vanessa's musings on the definition of real art, and her attempts at self-expression through it. The majority of the story is quite who ...more
Meghan Blenck
Jun 30, 2015 Meghan Blenck rated it liked it
I liked the idea of this story but I felt like Vanessa was immature through out the book.
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