The Book

More About This Title The Book

English

This book is not The Book. The Book is in this book. And The Book in this book is both the goodie and the baddie.

Bonnie is five. She wants to bury The Book because it is a demon that should go to hell. Penny, Bonnie’s mother, does bury The Book, but every day she digs it up and writes in it. John, Bonnie’s father, doesn’t live with them anymore. But he still likes to write in it from time to time. Ted, Bonnie’s stepfather, would like to write in The Book, but Penny won’t allow it.

To Bonnie, The Book is sadness.
To Penny, The Book is liberation.
To John, The Book is forgiveness.
To Ted, The Book is envy.
But The Book in this book isn’t what it seems at all.

If there was one thing in this world you wished you could hold in your hand, what would it be? The world bets it would be The Book.

English

If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she'd give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she currently resides in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a 30-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, award-winning poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she's written.

Being the daughter of a semi-famous rock 'n' roll duo from Melbourne, she grew up surrounded by song. For a while it seemed logical to travel the musician's path, especially when her first band, spAnk, hit it off in the Melbourne indie music scene back in the late 90s. Although she spent her years writing and recording dozens of songs she decided she also had a love for the written word, and began to pursue a career as a writer.

She started as a poet, drawing from her musical background and etching her thoughts and feelings into verse. Those stanzas soon turned into sentences and paragraphs, and eventually into published books. Her literary voice is said to overflow with "lyrical descriptions, unique metaphors, tight dialogue, and an abundance of sensory detail." She has also been told she has the ability to take a seemingly ordinary three-chord type story and turn it into a main stage event.

In addition to her novels, her poetry collections (including FABRIC, which was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012), and her pocket writing guides (WRITING IN A NUTSHELL SERIES), she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia's Cordite Review, and the anthologies 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND and SHADOWS AT THE STAGE DOOR, both released through Australia's, eMergent Publishing.

Additionally, she is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and makes a living as an editor/writer for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Note: Check out the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop she annually runs. In 2012 she had Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest, this year, 2013, she has Katharine Sands, New York literary agent as the main instructor.

English

"Jessica Bell's surprising risks with language capture a child's clear vision in a world of adult heartbreak. Indelible. Courageous." ~Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger's Glasses and Enchantment

"THE BOOK is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It's going to rip your blood pump out of your chest, kick it around like a football, and then shove it back inside you, leaving you with a potently reinvigorated faith in humanity. A curiously captivating read that somehow manages to encapsulate the length and breadth of love and family in one slim volume." ~Josh Donellan, author of Zeb and the Great Ruckus

READER REVIEWS FROM GOODREADS:

"When you read books as part of a book club, you tend to become critical. As you discuss and dissect, it's easy for weaknesses in a book to be highlighted. BUT there are some authors and some books who are so passionate about their craft, the reader is taken on a journey and it's not "just a book".

Jessica Bell has done this. The Book is heartwarming, and to the point. Her formatting is absolutely lovely and the little dividers between each part was what got me hooked.

I think what was unique about the story, she uses The Book to highlight marital problems, growing pains and life, in general. You want to think you're reading fiction, but so many sections appear to be more real than you would like to admit.

Some people may have issues with the way it is written, but to any parent, you find yourself mentally doing this everyday whether you jot it down or not. The story may be different but so many of the emotions are the same.

Would I recommend this read? Oh yes, definitely.

***

When the chance came to review another of Jessica Bell's books, I jumped at it. I loved her writing exercise and instruction book: Show & Tell in a Nutshell! This novella, The Book, caught my attention immediately--mostly because of the different formats--journal entries, doctor/patient transcripts, and narrative in a child's voice.

It doesn’t take a tome of 500 pages to tell a powerful, gripping and captivating story. Jessica has managed to do this in less than 150 pages in The Book. Jessica, also an author of poetry and nonfiction, takes on a unique voice for one of the narrators of her book—a five-year-old child, Bonnie; she truly captivates this voice, taking the reader through the story of the girl’s estranged parents and herself trying to figure out her young and confusing life full of adults always acting strangely.

The title comes from a book, which most would call a journal or diary, that Bonnie’s parents started writing in before she was even born. John, her father, has the idea to write special messages to his daughter and to give “The Book” to her when she is older. Penny, her mother, is the one who actually writes in it more, and eventually it becomes a diary for her mother, more than a message for the daughter.

The Book is divided into three parts: “Love is the Beginning,” “Love is a Weapon,” and “Love is Tangible.” In each part, Penny or John tell their side of the story and their feelings through their writings in “The Book”; Bonnie adds to the story through her narration for the reader; and transcripts of Bonnie speaking to a psychiatrist, Dr. Wright, are also included. All of these parts and various techniques work together to complete the story of Bonnie and her parents.

The reader learns that John and Penny don’t stay together after Bonnie’s born, and Penny starts a new relationship with Ted—who has a temper with a violent side. Bonnie explains to the reader what she sees going on in the lives of the adults around her, from her dad’s new family to her mom’s emotional side to “my Ted’s” outbursts.

Bonnie sees the biggest problem as “The Book.” She thinks it is what causes the difficulties in her life and the lives of her loved ones. She wants to destroy it and is just waiting for the chance to get it away from her mother and make everything better for everyone.


What Jessica does so well in this short novel is take on the different voices of the characters—readers will be able to hear the child trying to figure out her world in Bonnie’s narrative, while sympathizing with John and Penny who aren’t sure if they made the right choice to split apart. When Jessica writes as John in “The Book,” he has a distinct way of writing, which is different than Penny—this distinction and technique with voice are the marks of a talented writer.

The ending is shocking and can be somewhat disturbing, but it’s realistic, heartfelt, and certainly satisfying after spending several hours getting to know the characters in The Book.

The Book is a fast read, but one that you will want to read again. The characters are complex, which makes the story memorable, and a great one to discuss in a book club.

***

Amazing, stunning, bewildering, extraordinary, impressive, wonderful, marvelous, spectacular, wondrous, staggering, startling, breathtaking, striking, miraculous, astounding, stupefying, stupendous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How many more words do I have to say to get you to read this book?? Because I can come up with more, trust me.

WOW!! Just wow. I think I need a moment……………………………………….ok, I’m good!

Oh, wait I forgot another word: CAPTIVATING! If we’re ever going to be awarding someone for literary genius, hands down-feet up I’d nominate Jessica Bell. Wowzer, that chick can write. In just over 100 pages(Kindle), she tells us a story about a little girl trying to understand what love is. It’s written in diary-style entries from Bonnie’s mom and dad, transcriptions from Bonnie’s therapy sessions, and first-person POV of Bonnie as a 5-year-old girl. All of these make up The Book. It holds the reasons why Bonnie’s family has come undone.

The most impressive part of those different POVs is Bonnie’s. It’s written in 5-year-old speak; spelled the way a little kid hears it. Don’t worry it’s not hard to understand. And there’s actually a point to that, it helps back up the way Bonnie’s brain works and what “makes logic” to her. The writing incorporates all that is Bonnie- smart, intuitive, clever, scared, funny. Full of life.

She is the BEST character I have EVER read about!!And I read a whole lot.

This is not a romance novel in the sense where boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. No. This is the bittersweet romance of a disconnected family trying to piece their love back together.

Please, please read this book! I’m practically begging here. And mothers( and fathers) have a box of tissues handy because you’ll need it.

***

When a book has such an interesting synopsis that I can't stop thinking about it - I have to read it.

I read The Book in a couple of hours last night, barely noticing the time slipping by. The story is told through snippets written in the book by Penny and John, but mostly through the eyes of their five year old daughter, Bonnie.

What really fascinated me was just how perfect the perspective of Bonnie was. There is a belief among adults that young children just don't understand what is happening in the world around them, but Bonnie showed that they do. Even when she couldn't fully grasp what it all meant, she was aware of of tension, and the basic difference between right and wrong.

I finished the story with shivers running up and down spine - it was THAT good. I know I will read this over and over, and still enjoy it every single time.

***

This book goes to the head of the class. Matter of fact, it's in a brand new class of its own. Bell's style of writing is bold and innovative, and thoroughly engaging.

What's more, she does an outstanding job capturing the voice and thoughts of a very special little girl named Bonnie. Born prematurely, she may be a little "behind" other children her age, but the wisdom in some of her simplistic insights is startling, and often heart-wrenching. At the center of this tale is the "badly" journal her parents keep, but Bonnie is the shining star, and it is Bonnie who will linger in your mind and heart.

***

Awwwww! I dont often get teary eyed when I read, being a hard and jaded old nut. But little Bonnie got to me. This wonderful novella follows a series of diary entries from various members of a typical dysfunctional family, the most unique being five year old Bonnie. This author has captured the voice and perception of a very young child which leaves the reader wanting more. It reminds me of "The Room", and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time", where the young character is precocious in a manner that goes beyond mere childlike exuberance. I loved this book.

***

The Book is gorgeously written, with inventive language and a unique structure made up of a combination of diary entries, transcripts from therapy sessions, and sections told in the authentic voice of a five-year-old girl. These different elements come together perfectly as the story progresses, allowing the reader to gradually grasp more and more of what's truly going on in five-year-old Bonnie's life, and in the lives of her family. All the strands of the narrative weave together into a truly devastating, poignant climax and ending.
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