Title: A beautiful mess
Author: Ali Berlinski
Genre: chick lit, autobiography
Published: May 2013
Publisher: Pubslush Press
My source: won it from Chick Lit Club (thank you!!!)
My score on Goodreads: 3 stars
Biracial and bicoastal, Berlinski spent her childhood flying between the families of her divorced parents, without ever feeling like she fit in anywhere. Fortunately, she never lost her sense of humor, which is apparent on every page of her first book, a riotous and revealing look at the consequences of divorce, too much air travel, cultural diversity and conflicting and conflicted parents. With an open heart and an honest soul, she recounts her somewhat misspent youth and a wildly exciting (though equally torturous) love affair with the guy of her dreams. She loves, she loses and she packs it in, leaving behind the guy, two dysfunctional families, and a comfortable life to move to a foreign country and start all over again.
She’s Carrie Bradshaw reimagined as a third grade teacher in Brooklyn with zero interest in Manolo Blahniks. She’s a tough New Yorker with a tender twist of California sunshine in her blood that knows when to fight and when to surrender. Her journey will be oddly familiar and utterly unique to anyone who’s ever believed that love would save them—if not with this guy, then maybe with the next.
As her grandfather once said, “Well, it may not be the party you hoped for, but since we’re here, we might as well dance.” So now she lives in Spain and, despite everything, Berlinski keeps on dancing.
Funny, witty, well written,... I loved to read this book, but I have to admit it wasn't what I expected it to be. Author Ali Berlinski tells us the story about a part of her life, but sometimes it seemed a little chaotic. There were storylines from different periods in her life put together, whereby I wasn't always able to make a clear timeline in my head. I know I'm a reader who needs structure. A book may be chaotic, but for me there needs to be structure in the chaos. I have to believe this chaos is leading me towards something. In "A beautiful mess" I found the chaos, but I didn't always see the structure. This gave me the feeling I was just reading something without it would lead to something bigger or something special. This is not really criticism, it's just something I liked a little less.
"A beautiful mess" is written and told by Ali Berlinski. She's our writer and main character at the same time. This makes this book other than the chick lit books I'm used to, but I liked this style. Ali tells us about her difficulties finding her real "me", her real identity. She struggles when people ask her "who are you?", "where do you come from?", "what nationality do you have?",... Every single time she needs to do a lot of explanation. As you can see on the drawing on the cover, she's child of a polish father and a filipino mother. After they're divorced, both of them found a new partner. To make it really difficult, Ali's father marries her former nanny, Julie. A woman Ali always considered as a second mother.
Because of the seperation, Ali sometimes lives on the east coast, sometimes on the west coast. On top of that her father has some older sons from a marriage before he married Ali's mother. In this family, Ali is the youngest child. Her mother on the other hand, has two children from her new marriage after her divorce from Ali's father. In this part of the family Ali is the oldest child. When you put the two families togheter, she's a middle child. Along with all the advantages of a divorce (two birthday parties, getting presents for each occasion twice,...) Ali finds there are a lot of negative aspects too.
As you can see, Ali tells us everything. She doesn't back out when it becomes difficult or hard or maybe even shameful. We get to know her and her family just like we would live with them too. This is an aspect about this book I really liked. You can understand Ali very good, even though you don't always have to agree with her (at least I didn't agree all the time). A thing I didn't like, is the fact the end is a little abrupt. I expected she would give us more of a closing to her story or the expectation of a second book. But she did neither of those things. Some people like open endings, I just don't. That's a matter of personal taste. And as Ali lets us know throughout the book, it's good to have a personal taste!