Vivi is a manic pixie dream girl type - she writes "Vivi was here" on everything, she eats through the menu at the local diner, she dresses eccentricaVivi is a manic pixie dream girl type - she writes "Vivi was here" on everything, she eats through the menu at the local diner, she dresses eccentrically, she invites herself to sit with strangers and makes up games to win them over, and she decides that she's going to save sad townie boy Jonah with just how wonderful and spontaneous she is. Her MPDG-ness IS what wins Jonah over, so he doesn't really understand when she falls into a real manic episode as a result of her bipolar disorder.
The book has a lot to say about bipolar disorder, but not a lot to say about the manic pixie dream girl trope that Vivi so fully embraces, and I kept waiting for a reveal where Vivi is using that performance as a way to hide her illness, and a realization that her and Jonah's relationship isn't healthy at all. I think it's fair for me to read that into the book - there's a moment when Vivi is in her full-blown manic episode where she goes to the diner and doesn't have the energy anymore to play the eating-through-the-menu game because it's entirely consumed in a fixation on numbers where she seems to acknowledge the former thing as being a performance - but it's not explicit. And I think it could have been a really interesting novel that contrasts the romanticized version of mental illness with the reality of it, but it doesn't quite do that. Instead, we are supposed to read Vivi and Jonah's relationship as a true romance, and that doesn't really work for me. To be honest, I found their romance boring. Vivi is caught up in how much Jonah "needs" her, and Jonah is caught up in how crazy/beautiful Vivi is, and that's all. There's only one good scene of flirting and no emotional build-up to their relationship. I was, in fact, much more invested in a possible relationship between Jonah and Ellie, who acts as the voice of reason between the two narratives and is the only person who really accepts that both Vivi and Jonah's mother are actually ill.
Overall, I would say that this book pulls off a pretty amazing feat of being a great conversation-starter while also being kind of boring to read. ...more
I know I would have loved this book as a teenager. The characters and relationships are realistically complex, and I liked how a lot of the situationsI know I would have loved this book as a teenager. The characters and relationships are realistically complex, and I liked how a lot of the situations weren't 100 percent resolved. There was bit missing in the Maggie/Nash relationship for me, though. I never really felt how close they were, and I wish they had had it out a bit more at the end....more
It's like Jim Gaffigan read my review of Dad is Fat and then wrote me this book instead. All the classic Gaffigan food related jokes are included, asIt's like Jim Gaffigan read my review of Dad is Fat and then wrote me this book instead. All the classic Gaffigan food related jokes are included, as well as some actual tips for eating in different places across the US. This was a fun accompaniment to my commute and it also made me kind of hungry. ...more