Orleanna Orca Barrettes
Top: Self Esteem, Macy's
Shorts: aerie, Marshalls
Shoes: Simply Vera, Kohl's
Bag: Nine West, Marshalls
Bracelet: Mixit, JCPenney
Flirty Flamingo Barrettes
Flirty Flamingo Earrings
Top: Rebellious. One, Macy's
Skirt: Decree, JCPenney
Bag: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Pineapple charm: LC Lauren Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Shoes: First Love by Penny Loves Kenny, JCPenney
Pink bangle: Silver Linings, Ocean City boardwalk
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous
Celery green bangle: Burlington Coat Factory
Purple bangle: Don't Ask, Zulily
Mint bangle: Decree, JCPenney
. . . and also fish and flamingos. Even if in these accessories, the fins belong to an orca. I just finished reading The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Johnsberg, and this is the way that Candice might have introduced this post topic.
Candice is a twelve-year-old Australian girl (I seem to be having a run on Aussie reads lately) who is a little bit different. She isn't autistic, a fact that she's quick to point out. She leads a rich interior life that doesn't always fit in with how everyone else operates. Although she's fictional (this being a novella), she seems real, what with her social ineptitude, matter-of-fact way of speaking, and habit of writing notes to people she's just met instead of speaking to them. She has to plan everything out and isn't much good at pretending. She has one friend, a boy who calls himself Douglas Benson from Another Dimension. Also, she's hilarious, albeit unintentionally. Phee is written in first person, and each chapter is titled with a word that begins with the next letter of the alphabet. (That's where the whole F is for fins thing comes in.) The entire book is an essay that Candice is writing for English class but can't seem to finish.
The real conflict, though, isn't Candice's quirks. It's her family -- which is a little bit broken. Her parents aren't divorced, which I realize is what the word "broken" implies. But they do have lots of problems, including the death of Candice's baby sister, Candice's mom's illnesses, and Candice's Dad's feud with his brother, whom Candice calls Rich Uncle Brian. Also, they don't have much money. Unable to stand it any longer, Candice sets out to fix it all. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes sad. But Candice never gives up, a little engine that could when most people would've stopped ages ago -- or never even started at all.
This sounds like heavy stuff, especially given Candice's own challenges. And it is poignant and at times a little upsetting. But it's also . . . magical. Because there's a kind of other-worldliness about Candice, a certain something that blends beautifully with her very literal and no-nonsense outlook on life. Her letters to her pen pal, an American girl named Denille who never writes back, are particularly endearing, showcasing her humor and sparkly brand of grit. They serve as a kind of journal (or dare I say blog), giving Candice a place to pour out and process her issues. Also, her dad, who is a frustrated computer programmer (and this is a wee bit of a spoiler), hatches an amazing idea that capitalizes on the appeal of social media and the human condition, tying a great big bow around everything that this book -- and life -- is about.
And . . . I think that's where I'll stop. But before I go, here's a pic of the fins and feathers on my bathroom windowsill.
The blue backdrop is purely for staging purposes, providing the illusion of a Caribbean seascape while also hiding my dusty blinds. As for that vertical line at the left, it's where the two pieces of posterboard meet. Just take it for the imperfection it is -- or as a portal to another dimension.
Don't overthink it; it's a Douglas thing.