Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee” as Want to Read:
The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,736 ratings  ·  323 reviews
Originally published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in 2013, under the title, My Life as an Alphabet. ...more
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Chronicle Books (first published February 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,736 ratings  ·  323 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee
It often takes a while to figure out when you’re falling in love with a book. A book is a risk. You’re judging it from page one onward, informed by your own personal prejudices and reading history. Then there’s this moment when a shift takes place. It might be a subtle shift or it might be sudden and violent but all of a sudden it’s there. One minute you’re just reading for the heck of it, and the next you are LOVING what you’re reading, hoping it never has to end. Happily, that was my experienc ...more
This book is amazing!! The characters in it are incredibly weird and interesting. Another thing I love about this book is that it focuses on all the good things in life! Overall this book is great for anyone who loves humor and just wanting something good to read this is a must!
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a feel-good charmer. Not twee, or saccharine, or unbelievable like most Christmas stories... just a story that makes one feel that challenges can be met, crises overcome, friends made from enemies... using rose-colored glasses *is* a valid way of looking at the world. Young me would also have loved it.

I do like this author and will continue to consider more by him.
Helen Stower
This is one of the great reads of the year. I totally agree with all the YA readers who voted it for the Inky Award. This is the story of Candice Phee and her attempt to fix her family after the death of her baby sister and her mother breast cancer and subsequent depression. She is also trying to be there for her best friend, who believes he's fallen into the wrong dimension. Candice is odd, a misfit and brutally honest. The humour in this book reminded me so much if 'The diary if Adrian Mole' a ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Book Report on The categorical universe of Candice Phee
by: Katharine B.


The author of the three star book "The categorical universe of Candice Phee" is "Barry Jonsberg.” Barry Jonsberg has also written the book called "Cassie", "Ironbark" and a few others. The genre of this book is fiction, and the sub - genre is young adult fiction. I think this book is very thoughtful because of how the main character Candice helps everyone. The narrator of this
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. A really fun YA read for a State Library of Victoria/Public Libraries Victoria challenge. Have to see the movie now!
Ms. Yingling
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Candice has many struggles. Her father is at war with her Rich Uncle Brian over a computer software patent, her mother is severely depressed after Sudden Infant Death of Candice's sister Sky seven years previously, and she is also a breast cancer survivor. Candice is so quirky that some teachers have suggested that she might be "on the spectrum", although Candice and her family seem to dismiss this. Even quirkier is her only friend, Douglas Benson from Another Dimension, who fell from a tree and ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird
The book “My Life As An Alphabet” by Barry Jonsberg is a book
about a young girl called Candice Phee and her life being as an alphabet.
She is a strange girl that has no friends because she is too weird
but then one day a new boy comes to the school and they become friends.
His name is Douglas Benson from another dimension and he thinks he is from another universe and that he has to get back to his world.

About Candice, she has a pet fish called “Earth Pig Fish”. I don’t know why she called it t
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was very set forward with the plot and the length of the story because the chapters went in order of the alphabet (A is for Assignment, B is for Birth, etc.). It had me thinking that my family is lucky because of the financial and emotional problems that the family is going through. I also liked the book because the main character, Candice, tried everything in her power to make her family relations right again. Socially awkward, Candice learns how to have friends and talk mor ...more
Natasha Fenwick
Barry Jonsberg has once again written an amazing novel. Candice is a smart, quirky and at times a little odd 12/13 year old. Barry Jonsberg has used these traits to make a character who is able to make you laugh and at times feel sympathy for her as she tries to fix her family and pet’s problem. Candice gives you a unique view on the world and how she sees it. By giving Candice a friend named Douglas (aka. Douglas Benson From Another Dimension) who is able to understand Candice's odd behaviours ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tween-book-club
This was a surprisingly enjoyable read, for the tween age group.

In this novel, Candice tells her own story, in an Alphabet Autobiography. But Candice is no ordinary 12-13 year old. Her family is dysfunctional and has experienced tragedy. Candice is different from other kids and she hints that people think she is somewhere on a spectrum.

Funny, delightful and often times poignant, this is a beautiful coming-of-age story, about a girl, her friend, her fish and a quest to make those she loves happ
Niamh C
My life as Alphabet… A thought-provoking book written by Barry Jonsburg.
Wow, What a book! Anyone who is looking for a story that is sad but will make you smile at the same time, should read this book. It is funny and wholehearted and talks about the issues of cot death, cancer and family problems, as well as lame and sloppy first kisses. This book will take you on an amazing journey through the life of Candice Phee.
I read this in preparation of Book week for work.
I wish I had read this when I was 12. It would have been as well loved as my decrepit copy of Just as Long as We're Together
Candice Phee is an odd creature, but very relatable.
Nik McGrath
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. Read it for YA lit at uni. I found the language smart, funny and creative. The story heartfelt, and something most people could relate to, family and dysfunction following loss. The characters are layered, loveable and interesting. Candice, the central character, is just beautiful. I would recommend this to all young readers, and old ones too!
Delightful tale of life from the perspective of an individual, a character who knows she is different and accepts and appreciates her individuality and that of her family and friends.

A heart-warming character, trying to heal the ones she loves, as only she can.
Clare M
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little while to get into this book, but I am glad I persevered. A heartwarming story about friendship, family and belonging.
Jimmi Jet
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me this another one of those books that shows life from another perspective, one of the things I love about books, and is a perfect balance of sorrow, happiness and humour. Although it was a few years ago I read this book now I still remember it and I feel as though I always will.
Aimee P
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Life as an Alphabet - Review

How can one person save her entire family from being broken forever?
My Life as an Alphabet is a beautiful, emotional and enveloping comedy-drama, that will take you on the journey of the main protagonist Candice Phee. She is a young girl who speaks her mind and has ambitions to help everyone in her life, including her family, friends, pet fish and even her teacher! It is written by Barry Jonsberg, author of other fantastic works such as ‘Dreamrider’, ‘Ironbark’ an
Read this book in less than two days, which was easy as it was fun to read. Love the character Candice Phee. The edition I read was called ‘H for Happiness’ which is the film tie in edition. I am planning to see the film tomorrow afternoon. The story is funny, with some really serious elements thrown in and tackles the concept of dysfunctional families really well.
Finally read it. It was good. Knew it would be.
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, australian
A sweet and sad book about serious child neglect and a girl who talks to fish.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Categorical Universe Of Candice Phee
Book Report By: Isaiah Ortiz
--------WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!!!!--------

The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee was written by Barry Jonsberg. Barry Jonsberg was born in in Liverpool in England. The original title of the book was “My Life As An Alphabet”. Barry also wrote “Dreamrider”, “Being here” and a series called “Pandora Jones” and more.

The Genre of this book is realistic fiction because it’s pretty much every day life… yet, some of the stuff
Oh, how I loved Candice Phee! The twelve-year-old pretty much epitomizes the word "quirky" since she is surely that in her approach to life, but she also somehow manages to think the best of everyone, even Jen Marshall, a classmate who enjoys belittling her. The passages in which she ponders life's meaning and her fish's regarding her as a godlike figure as well as the likelihood of consequences show her depth while those in which she shares her version of truth with others are often hilarious. ...more
Sharon Marchingo
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Candice Phee is almost 13 and her life is not as she would like it to be. After falling from a tree, her new best friend Douglas, believes that he is from another dimension and on a daily basis tries to jump from the tree to return to his ‘other’ self and his ‘other’ family. After the death of her baby sister Candice’s parents are so absorbed by it that they cannot live a good life. Her father is estranged from his own brother and within this despair Candice decides that she will try and fix thi ...more
Adele Broadbent
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars!
Candice Phee is a bit different. She sees the world in a very precise way and is very smart – but the kids in her class call her Essen. Which is really SN – Special Needs. This doesn’t really bother Candice. She’d like to have friends but understands why she hasn’t – until Douglas Benson joins her class. Douglas believes he is from another dimension and spends all his time trying to get back to his own. Candice takes this all in her stride, and they become firm friends.

The story is set
A clever and likable book with a funny and likable heroine who's having a difficult time with her life.

Candice is asked by her teacher to write her autobiography, in a A to Z paragraphs format. But Candice is a (very?) peculiar 12 years old, with a broken family, OCD and difficulties to make friends. So, she decides she'd rather write full chapters about her life and, at the same time, will try to make the world a little more happy. The book is her essay.

The girl was smart, interesting and funny
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barry Jonsberg writes the best characters!! Candice Phee is a thirteen year old who I would like to be BFFs with. She is extremely literal, loves reading the dictionary and Charles Dickens and special needs or not, she just wants everyone to be happy. And by everyone, that means her mum and dad, her rich uncle brian, her atheist-leaning pet - earth-pig fish, her teacher with a lazy eye Miss Bamford and her friend/future husband Douglas Benson from another dimension. She reminds of Ricky Gervais' ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love love loved it! :) :D I do wish it was longer ... I want to know what happened after.

So when I first started this book I wasn't sure if I'd like it. The character voice was very strange and unusual. I felt it didn't fit the mindset of a 12 year old. But as I read on, I realised just how perfectly it fit. I don't want to say anything about the book, especially the main character. It's better to go in blind.

What's brilliant about this book is it's ability to be poignant. It's poignancy makes
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a book... This is a wonderful page turner written by Barry Jonsberg. If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh and cry, your dreams have come true and this is the book for you. Come and tag along to the life of Candice Phee a 12 year old girl who is a little odd but has a warm heart. Lets just say Candice doesn't hold back on giving her honest opinion. This book is filled with laughs and happy moments but their are sad moments in this book. And you may be wondering does Ca ...more
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Candice Phee is quirky, to say the least. It's been considered she is "on the spectrum", but Candice is not quite certain what that means. Candice likes order, and she likes honesty; those are traits she values in herself. She has difficulty meeting people and talking face-to-face; she always carries a note pad for those times when she gets tongue-tied and can't get her words out. Candice loves everyone; considers everyone her friend, but in her own special world of Mum, Dad, and Rich Uncle Bria ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Two Wolves
  • Sick Bay
  • The Dog Runner
  • Lenny's Book of Everything
  • Wink
  • How to Bee
  • As Happy as Here
  • Honeybee
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words
  • Here's to You, Rachel Robinson
  • All the Things That Could Go Wrong
  • Elanus
  • Sister Heart
  • Silence is Goldfish
  • The Little Wave
  • Hive (Hive #1)
  • Things a Map Won't Show You: Stories from Australia & Beyond
  • The Drop-Off
See similar books…

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
24 likes · 10 comments
“Ich war fünf. Mit fünf weiß man nicht, was man zu erwarten hat. Man weiß auch mit zwölf nicht, was man zu erwarten hat. Vielleicht weiß man nie, was man zu erwarten hat.” 1 likes
“Stell dir eine Kartoffel mit aufgemaltem Gesicht vor, dann weißt du ungefähr, wie er aussieht. Es war nicht schwer, sich auszumalen, wie sich im Innern dieser knubbeligen Kugel viel zu viele großartige Gedanken um Raum und Plätze zankten und aus Platzmangel nach außen drückten.” 0 likes
More quotes…