Celia is smart, well-read, and sometimes funny. She's also broken inside in ways I think any reader who's been bullied or who has lost the security of family or friendships can relate to. Despite the fact that Celia is rarely insightful or perceptive when it comes to the other characters in the book, her voice works as a strong, compelling narrator. I was interested in her outcome, and near the end of the book when we finally understand what happened to start her on this path of heartbreak and revenge, I felt totally connected to and invested in her.
Which brings me to my next point. The author handles the plot arc about bullying with a deft, authentic touch. Every instance felt absolutely familiar. It was like being back inside high school, trapped by cliques and a social hierarchy that refuses to give second chances. Readers will recognize themselves (either as the bully, the sidekick, or the outcast) in this book and hopefully find a way to begin thinking about a different outcome to their own situation.
Finally, I really loved Celia's poetry. This is where we truly see how her mind and heart work, and it is through her poetry that she has rare insight into other people rather than tunnel vision on her own difficult life.
What Left Me Wanting More:
As much as I enjoyed Celia, the other characters fell flat for me. Most of the time the other students and the members of Celia's family were one-dimensional and easily dismissed. This may be because Celia was so caught up in her own personal misery that she failed to notice the kind of nuances that really flesh out a character. I especially wanted more from Drake, her new best friend. I was pleased that he wasn't stereotypical, but he spent most of the story obsessed with a self-help book, and unfortunately this turned a compelling character into a one-note tune that quickly got irritating. However, near the end of the story, Drake redeems himself and becomes the friend I'd hoped he'd be all along.
I also wanted a bit more closure at the end of the book. We tread water with Celia for a long time--living through mean girls at school and a broken family at home--and when she finally begins to move through it emotionally, the book ends. I felt like just when the emotional arc started to really matter, it was over. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that Celia's experiences feel very authentic, and that this book is one that will resonate with many readers.
A compelling narrator, concise prose, and an emotional journey that will resonate with many make THE SWEET REVENGE OF CELIA DOOR a story worth reading.