RTW: Best Book I’ve Read This July – Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Road Trip Wednesday is a weekly blog carnival organized by YA Highway.
This week’s topic: Best book you’ve read this July.
This month has been awesome, because I’ve read some fantastic books, so choosing one particular book was considerably tough. But since I’ve already posted about the other awesome books I’ve read this month, I’m gonna do the one that I was about-to-post-about. Also, this isn’t just one of the best book I’ve read this July, it’s also one of the best books I’ve EVER read.
Trust Jaclyn Moriarty to do something like this. Also, what else can you expect? She’s pure awesome.
What is Feeling Sorry For Celia about?
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent
father has reappeared, and her dialogue with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the
fridge. On top of everything else, her English teacher wants to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope,” and
now a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else. A #1 bestseller in
Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of
letters, postcards, and missives from imaginary organizations like “The Cold Hard Truth Association.”
Feeling Sorry For Celia starts off with enough quirkiness to catch your attention (unless you’re a quirky-hater, in which case I don’t know what to say to you). The first letter shot off to her is from the Association of Teenagers telling her what an embarrassment she is to teenhood. And throughout the novel, Elizabeth gets letters from such associations and clubs like The Society of People Who are Definitely Going To Fail High-School and The Best Friends Club and Cold Hard Truth Association etc admonishing her, praising her (while also being very quick to bring her down) but that’s perhaps the least of her worries. Her best friend, Celia, has run off to the circus (yes, the circus – with tents and tightropes and everything), her English teacher is making her write to a stranger from the neighbouring public school, her Dad (who has remarried) is suddenly shifting to Australia and is bent on rekindling his relationship with her while she has never even met her step-family and strangely nobody but her seems to be keen on it.
Jaclyn Moriarty does epistolary to perfection, with a generous distribution of letters, postcards and post-it notes. The character voices hook you and hold you under a spell (like only your favourite ice-cream can) and befriend you such that by the time you near the end of the book you start dreading reaching the last page. The characters are absolutely endearing – Elizabeth’s Rollerblading-activist mother, her Brookefield-er penpal Christina, Celia – who thirsts for adventure and thrives on restlessness, the weird and gorgeous Saxon Walker and the very secret Secret Admirer (!). Elizabeth herself is someone who grows on you in all her quirkiness and takes a place in the YA-Hall-of-Memorable-Protagonists.
This is a book you’d read and re-read and fall in love more with each read.
Also, if The Year of Secret Assignments made me a Jaclyn Moriarty fan for life, Feeling Sorry For Celi  makes me love her to death.
Awards won by Feeling Sorry For Celia include:
  • Winner in 2001 of the Ethel Turner prize
  • A Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book
  • A BookSense 76 Pick
  • An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults
  • A White Ravens selection
This lovely, bittersweet account of teenage life is a winner all through.
Gotham magazine pretty much sums it up:
“Edgy and irreverant…a sharp and witty take on friendship, family and the roller-coaster ride of adolescence [Elizabeth is] to-fall-in-love-with.”
What’s the best book you’ve read this July?

10 thoughts on “RTW: Best Book I’ve Read This July – Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

  1. Great review. I'll put it on my wish list. I haven't read The Year of Secret Assignments yet, so I'll check both of them out.


  2. I've read this book, no joke, more than ten times 🙂 first read it in 2000 and it just gets better on every re-read.Which is your fave Moriarty book?xx


  3. Lydia ~ I read Life As We Knew It a couple of years back and I agree..it was awfully fantastic! I have yet to read its companion books though…Angie ~ The Year of Secret Assignments = <3333333!Medeia ~ You. Have. To. Jaclyn is such a refreshingly original writer.Nomes ~ I really need to get a personal copy of this book (I borrowed from a friend). Fave JM book? This is hard. I love her more with every book (I've read 2 and I'm reading Dreaming of Amelia now)..oh, I love all of them. Seriously.


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