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Life is Funny

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  773 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
From the outside, they're simply a group of urban teenagers. But from the inside, they're some of the most complex people you'll ever meet. There's Eric, fiercely protective of his brother Mickey-but he has a secret that holds together his past and future. Sonia, struggling to live the life of a good Muslim girl in a foreign America. Gingerbread and Keisha, who fall in lov ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 15th 2002 by Puffin Books (first published March 17th 2000)
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Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens who breathe, adults who care about them
Recommended to Julia by: ?
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily Goreham
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
*CHARACTERS* I would rate the characters a 5. I could imagine what each of them looked like based on how well they were described by Frank. One character Drew was a mexican good looking boy, had green eyes, and was toned. Grace was another main character was a very pretty girl with long blonde hair with fair skin. I enjoyed all the eleven charters. They were all believable because all the things they are going through is possible. They all stay true to them selves, for example, Drew knew he had ...more
Ricardo Lombera
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
'Life is Funny' by E.R. Frank is about the lives of very diverse eleven teenagers that live in Brooklyn, New York. This book spans to seven years. China is a girl who goes to school with her three best friends, trying to break through their personal struggles. Then, Keisha is a girl who tries to work things out her friends and her friend's boyfriend. There is Sonia, a girl who is trying to be a perfect Muslim girl while adapting to life in a new country. Drew is a boy who is trying to deal with ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-reviewed
This book settled right into my soul. It tells the story of eleven different teenagers whose lives drape over each other to various degrees, but what makes the book so captivating is that each teenager's story stands on its own, and contains characters that feel real and whole, facing problems that are all too prevalent in our world. It's sad to think that a book about domestic violence, drug abuse, neglect, teen pregnancy, cutting, poverty or foster care could be seen as contrived or overdone, ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this book. It's not well-written, most of the story lines feel unfinished, and the ending isn't satisfying, but I couldn't put it down! I would recommend this book to teenagers. If you enjoy the beauty of language in books, this isn't for you. Read this if you love drama.
Marci Glasgow-Haire
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
The book was choppy and hard to follow. It left me wondering if today's kids are having to deal with as much drugs, sex, and violence as these characters do.
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The many stories each have their own complexities and surprises, and they fit together in wholly unexpected ways. I would recommend this for anyone, period.
Elizabeth Miguel
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Characters:5: The characters were well described in simple terms. in the beginning of the novel, for example China is describing Eric, "I'm guessing he's younger than us, but he's way bigger, and he's real dark, and he doesn't look around or anything. His eyes are set straight ahead, and he walks right by and up to the front-door step and just stands there, waiting"(Frank 3).I thought the description of Eric was exceptional because anyone could understand the way his character is. I did like the ...more
Sabrina Llamas
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I rate the characters a 5. There are eleven teenagers throughout this book and it would be difficult to keep track of who is who. But Frank makes it easy by being very detailed. Each character has a distinct voice and personality that makes them stand out."'He's got poetry,' I go, all choky. 'He's got mad poetry.'"(Frank). In this quote, Ebony is talking about her crush named Eric. She is the only person who uses this specific grammer. All of the characters are believable. They each have a diffe ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fiction, own
This was just "meh" for me, simply put.

I'm going to start with what I did like and why I think this book has some merit in the YA world. This book is extremely realistic. E.R. Frank has done work as a social worker, and it is definitely apparent. Everything about this book was plausible, and I never had a reality check moment, like I tend to have with some YA books. So, if you're looking for some realistic fiction, this is definitely your go-to book.

I also think that given the format of the bo
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This book had seriously surprised me to say the least. I was kind of just looking for a random book to read in the library to read, and when I picked this one (admittedly, due to the title alone) I was intrigued, but for some reason I had the feeling I wouldn't like it. But I figured, what the hey, and decided to try it. And soon, I learned how wrong I was.

This book is certainly not for someone who is looking for a happy tale. It deals with a lot of various problems, some of which include: abusi
Dec 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
"My professor reads essays out loud in class as examples of what we should be considering when we make our Statue of Liberty visit.

"The essays are full of Family and Freedom. Great-grandparents kissing their own tears into theground, imagining streets paved with gold and opportunity. Persecuted and oppressed great-uncles and aunts rejoicing on crowded boat decks, as the sun rises over Liberty's torch. Dreams coming true.

"'Taking the time to think about where we came from and how we fit into our
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book...until the end. While I understand why Frank wanted to leave loose ends (trying not to spoil it), I felt unfulfilled at the end and had too many lingering questions. Lingering questions can be a great tool, however, with the number of main characters (11) and taking placing over seven years, it is just to general. I felt I needed something, but cannot figure out what. Perhaps answers. Not necessarily about the characters' futures, but at least about some o ...more
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
In 'Life is Funny', all of the stories Frank has composed have a depressing, gritty feeling to them, yet there is hope in your heart for all of the characters. Tough-talking Monique, who is pregnant by her abusive ex-boyfriend, finds pure, real love with a man named Hector, of whom which she met at the prenatal clinic she attended. Rich-boy Drew denies his father's money and material possessions when he takes a chance to save his mother from getting beaten once more by his father. There's also G ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The author uses the perspectives of several characters to demonstrate the depth of human experience. Readers get to experience the personal thoughts and feelings of each character, and compare these with the ways in which outside characters perceive them. It really makes you think about your own identity, and those qualities you choose to present to the world.

My one disappointment is that I wanted to use this book with my 12th graders, and the sexual parts toward the
Katie Julcher
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
"Life Is Funny" shows how a group of totally different teenagers can be linked together in unexpected ways.
The book strips away the defenses of one group of teenagers living in today's world and shows their unbearably real lives. Each section is written with the point of view of a new character, exposing their thoughts and motives that are concealed when we view them from afar in other sections of the book.
Although the book was somewhat confusing because of the different view points, they also
Gina Huber
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This book was confusing because of the way it was divided. Seven years are covered and many of the characters attend the same high school, so the stories overlap somewhat, but in a really difiicult-to-follow way. Each "chapter/year" contains several stories, but I found myself flipping back and forth to see who was talking, and whose chapter it was. There is a lot of gratuitous foul language that I don't think was necessary to move along the "plot". Just because teenagers can be challenging does ...more
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Picked this up off my bookshelf the other day on a whim and re-read it. It's been one of my favorite books of all time since I first read it in junior high, and I wondered how I would feel about it now that I'm halfway through college.

I still love it. It's not so much a novel as a series of short stories, all dealing with kids growing up in New York. ER Frank manages to write about serious issues (teen pregnancy, drug use, sexual abuse, domestic violence, death, poverty) without seeming melodram
Apr 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen-lit
"I got hyper blood and bad concentration and I got to take my riddle-in every day, but I don't care. I got a crackhead mother somewhere on this earth, or maybe dead, but I don't care because I got my real mama and my real daddy since my little gingerbread face came into this place. My mama is white and my daddy is black, and fools try to make shit out of that, and I don't care." (p. 157)

First-person narratives of eleven characters are woven together to tell a cohesive story about students at a B
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
This follows the lives of a dozen or so Brooklyn kids over a number of years by focussing on the stories of two kids each "year. It darts in and out of their lives in a way that's both tantalising and frustrating - great because you get immersed in their backgrounds and experiences very vividly during a certain time/incident, but a little distancing because you might not get to revisit that character until a few sections later, and maybe not in the level of detail you want from the earlier setup ...more
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it first came out and loved it. When I saw it at the library the other day, I remembered loving it, but hardly anything else. It was just as good on a second read. The POV switches between characters for every chapter, but does it smoothly, so it's not hard to figure out what's going on. The story follows a group of innercity New York kids, one as young as 11 or so, some as old as college age, through the years, so you can kind of see how they grow up and what happens. I'm not e ...more
J.M. Stetson
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Okay, so this book isn't for the faint of heart. Not because it's dramatic and crazy and a tear jerker, but because it deals with a lot of things I've never had to deal with personally. First of all, a bunch of different perspectives from teens living in the ghetto and maybe 2-3 who live in the "good side of town". The only problem I had with this book is that because it would switch perspectives so much, I would be reading about someone I was really interested in and than the story would switch ...more
Terri Robinette
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Eleven teenagers spanning several years. A little confusing following all the story lines and timelines but well worth it. The book doesn't sugarcoat; it's realistic and gritty. It reveals the ugly side of life - abuse, neglect, drugs, sexual assault, teenager pregnancy while counterbalancing with love, affection, and creating new nontraditional families. The characters grip your heart with their individual stories. You want each of them to succeed and conquer the obstacles in their paths. For s ...more
Jul 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Frank is a clinical social worker in Brooklyn, according to the blurb, and she does a great job of capturing the real voices of kids in this novel. Stories of several different characters are interwoven, with surprises and twists about how they interrelate. They all grow and change in believable and heart-warming ways, even though many characters are dealing with serious problems. This is mature - there's cutting, incest, teen pregnancy, drug use, spousal abuse, etc. all impacting the characters ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any teen who likes realistic fiction
Great book - written in multiple perspectives/voices and over the course of several years. Similar to The Realm of Possibility in that the threads that connect the characters are thin or transparent until well into the book, but create a very interesting web in the end. It is also unique in that the characters grow from young teens/pre-teens to mature young adults in the course of the book, so their language and conversations and issues change along with that maturing process. (It was confusing ...more
Petty Lisbon
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it
If you read Palo Alto and thought it was too rich people problems with unlikeable characters, this book should be the fix for you. Set in New York City, this diverse group of teens (race and class wise) sound more authentic with the problems they have. While it feels a little too much like a Degrassi Junior High episode with morals and preachiness, overall, it means well. It loses points from what could've been a 4 star book for a) Gingerbread and Keisha and b) not really wrapping people's st
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is the best book that i have read in a long time. This book is about alot of different kids who are going through issues in their life. Wheather its boy trouble or parent trouble they are all going through something. One moment in the book where i knew this was the book for me was on page twenty. On page twenty these girls named Ebony and China are talking about this boy named Eric and Ebony is talking bad about him and China starts to brake down and cry. At that point she realized she ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it liked it
When I read the first few pages of this book, I wasn't very interested and thought I wouldn't like it very much, but as I continued with it I liked it more and more. It was a little confusing at times to have so many different characters, but I liked how they all connected to each other. There were some characters that i would hae liked to hear more about, and I wish that all of the stories of the individuals could have been expanded on more, but over all I was surprised and pleased by this book ...more
Samantha V
Nov 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
The scene that got me stuck to my book was the beggining of the second chapter page 21. " Okay, what was , Mara was bestfreinds with Jessie, but then Mara's boyfriend, who's in high school now, fooled around with Jessie. So Mara beats up Jessie". That part stuck me and got me to want to read more becuase i like when girls fight over the same boy it be mad funny. When i was reading this i was in school when reading our 20 minutes during the beggining of humanites.
May 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
While I enjoyed discovering the overlaps between the characters in Life is Funny, I was a bit bothered that every single character experienced such incredible and immense pain. I see the same painful experiences happen to my students; so I wanted more of a hopeful future for the characters that could resonate with my students.
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I so did not like this book. 2 28 Aug 17, 2009 11:39AM  
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E. R. Frank is the author of two highly praised novels for Atheneum: America and Friction. Her first novel was Life Is Funny, winner of the Teen People Book Club NEXT Award for YA Fiction and was also a top-ten ALA 2001 Quick Pick.

In addition to being writer, E. R. Frank is also a clinical social worker and psychotherapist. She works with adults and adolescents and specializes in trauma.
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“Sonia, every dog does not bite, nor does each bee sting. For each schoolmate who insults you, there must be fifty who do not. And for every Muslim terrorist, there are thousands of us who oppose violence. Tell those who are cruel to you that in their cruelty, they are the terror. Then inform them that they are forgiven, for such forgiveness may shame some toward kindness.” 10 likes
“Time is tricky. You have whole months, even years, when nothing changes a speck, when you don’t go anywhere or do anything or think one new thought. And then you can get hit with a day, or an hour, or a half a second when so much happens it’s almost like you got born all over again into some brand-new person you for damn sure never expected to meet.” 9 likes
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