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 artist, but her story doesn’t really revolve around art (which in fact was a little quibble I had with the book, the lack of depth the art aspect had). Instead, Vanessa struggles with the common adolescent desire to have more, to be more than the typical high school life. Vanessa is a warm-hearted girl: she has a great relationship with her family, which I appreciated, and she means well for her friends. While her problems with her friends arise from her trying to push what she feels is right onto their situations, I have no doubt that she is well-intentioned and loving. She wants the future to be now, and what teenager can really fault her for that?
My biggest disappointment in MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE was that I guess I had wanted or expected…well, more. And by that I don’t mean page-wise: at less than 200 pages, MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE still does a good job with character development. But for a girl who dreams of going out there and actually living, Vanessa’s troubles feel disappointingly small, easily resolved, even a little contrived. I had expected her to undergo a greater sort of revelation, but that was not what ended up happening.
MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE is good for a quick read when you’re in between two heavier books. It didn’t resonate as well as The Opposite of Invisible did for me, but I’m still interested in what Liz Gallagher has for us next.