Welcome to a new feature we are participating in with our Casting Call gals we are calling “The Selective Collective”.
For our first post for the SC we chose the book:
The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block
Gone Pecan’s assignment for this book was to come up with several questions that could be used either as general roundtable discussion points or a potential book club.
Ariel has an irrational fear that stopping the search for her best friend means she doesn’t care but cannot accept that her mother has cancer and will not even say the word. Do you think she is exchanging one obsession for another because she can’t deal with her mother’s illness?
Diana and I know first-hand about the sadness and fear of dealing with a mother’s cancer. It doesn’t seem odd to me that Ariel can’t come to terms with her mother’s diagnosis, because she’s already experienced the gut-wrenching horror of her best friend in the world going missing. To lose her mother, to whom she’s incredibly close (at least until she leaves for college) is unthinkable, so she lives in a state of denial. That denial is encouraged by Ariel’s parents, who attempt to shield her from the worst of Ariel’s mother’s sickness. Since her mother is far away and isn’t sharing what her treatment or life with cancer is like, it made total sense that Ariel would instead continue to be consumed with investigating Jeni’s disappearance. Her life is coming undone, and she needs something — or someone — to ground her and make her feel at home, since home is no longer the safe haven it once was. — Teen Lit Rocks
Ariel remembers a time with her mother when she told her “Someday I hope you meet a man who loves you as much as I do. Because every girls deserves that much love.” Why do you think girls today, regardless of their upbringing, struggle to love themselves as they are?
I think this is one of those topics that is easily answered by placing blame on others. Fashion industry. Hollywood. Society. Media. MTV. And while these things certainly don’t HELP girls’ struggles with loving themselves as they are, I think it stems from something deeper. I truly believe all girls dislike themselves at some point in their lives. It’s human nature to want things we can’t have, so I think it’s only natural that girls want to look differently than they do. Where the real problem lies isn’t in this human nature, it’s our reactions to it that only feed the struggles all girls face. When we have this attitude as a people that says if you hate something about yourself, you can always change it we send a message that says “you aren’t good enough as you are.” When we allow our daughters to dislike themselves and NOT encourage them to love who they are and what they’ve been given, this is when they truly struggle to love themselves as they are. By teaching girls at a younger age to appreciate what they have, what they look like, etc. and teach them to be accept that they are unique and special, we give them the tools to love themselves. It’s no lie that people tend to gravitate to and love those who love themselves first. It’s my honest belief that the most important person you will ever love should first and foremost be yourself. Because once you do that, to quote Carrie Bradshaw, “well, that’s just fabulous.” —Candice @ The Grown-Up YA
“The Elementals” falls in the genre “New Adult”. How do you feel about this genre of books popping up? Are they something you would normally gravitate toward or maybe something you would only read if a specific book was recommended?
I know New Adult is all the range as a “bridge” genre between Young Adult and regular Adult (no, not that kind of “adult” — just regular books for grown-ups) novels. As far as I can tell from the two NA books I’ve read, the main difference between YA and NA books is that the protagonists are in college instead of high school, and there is significantly more sexual activity (as would be appropriate for an 18+ protagonist) than in most YA books. I think that as with any genre, there is the extraordinary, good, mediocre and awful. Because the genre seems to be popular in the self-publishing world, there is an unfair assumption about it, which is a shame because the two NA books I’ve read (including The Elementals) were well written and interesting — not just cliche stories with extra sex thrown into the mix. Because it’s an emerging genre, I expect the offerings to grow in the next couple of years but will probably wait for recommendations/reviews before I jump into reading more NA books.–Teen Lit Rocks
Ariel’s relationship with John, as well as Tania and Perry, is very dark and filled with random moments. Do you think that any of their relationships are healthy?
I felt that they all had an odd co-dependency, especially Tania, Perry and John. While their relationship and its history was something I wanted to know more about, I never felt I fully understood them and how their dynamic worked. It appeared that Tania was at the forefront, manipulating the men (although she didn’t come off as unkind to them), and yet when Ariel began her relationship with John, where I expected to see jealousy from Tania, but there was none. It was odd, to say the least. And there also weren’t any of the boundaries I would expect to see in a normal, healthy relationship. Tania freely walked into a room and sat on a bed with a naked Ariel and partially-naked John as though it were perfectly natural. I found that very strange. As far as the situation between John and Ariel, while I really liked this all-consuming passion they had for one another,and they seemed to verbally express such love and commitment, it sort of came out of nowhere. They went from flirtation and intrigue to passionate love pretty quickly, which came off a little less normal and a lot more obsessive to me. No, I don’t think there was anything healthy going on there, but while the situation with Tania, Perry and John would always be tainted in some way of another, I think there was the potential for John and Ariel to have a solid relationship once she matured. –Tee @ YA Crush
To show solidarity with her mother during her chemo treatments, Ariel shaves her head. Losing your hair is a big deal to both men and woman, but more so for a female. Do you have any inspiring tales to share about a loved one where either you or someone else joined together to show that they are not alone in their fight?
I don’t have any personal stories of my own, but on multiple occasions, my aunt and cousins have completely shaved their heads to donate their hair to Locks of Love. Not only do they donate their hair, but they also make a very strong statement by having a shaved head and totally owning it! My aunt is a very outspoken person and I know she can totally make any situation work. I definitely have a huge respect for her daughter who shaved her head as well considering she’s still a teenager! It takes a lot of guts to do that and I’m so proud of them for it.–Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide
Liked our Roundtable Q & A discussion? Check out all the other great SC posts about this book!
Thanks to St Martin’s Press for sending us copies for review.