Books Books

Eliza and her Monsters

I’ve mentioned earlier in a previous Books Books how I was subscribed to Owl Crate, a service which would deliver a book to my door every month. Unfortunately, I’ve had to cancel my subscription for the time being. However, while I was subscribed I enjoyed quite a number of the books I was sent. It is one of those books that I’d like to talk about and share with you today.

I had no idea what I was in for when I first held Eliza and Her Monsters. I was definitely not expecting the roller coaster that Francesca Zappua took me on.

Eliza was a wonderful character, who suffers from anxiety and depression. It didn’t take me long at all before I connected with Eliza. An artist first and writer second, she had a blog she updated regularly with a story of her own creation, which had become quite popular. Of course, no one knew that it was actually shy little Eliza who was the artist in question. No one, save for two of her best friends, who she only really knew online.

I related to Eliza very heavily. Even if I’m miserable at art, and don’t have a crazily successful webcomic. I relate because like me, Eliza is a creative person, who uses her creativity as a way to get away from things sometimes. An escape from the world. Like me, she has created a world that she knows backwards and forwards, and characters she knows better than the people she lives with.

As a writer, I could definitely relate. Much as, as an anxious and depressed person, I could relate with her on that level. Eliza wasn’t diagnosed at the start of the book, but France wrote her so well that it came through clearly anyway. At least, it did for me.

Because I related so much to Eliza, I soon became desperate to finish the book, to find out what would happen, how this was going to go. Not going to lie, I had a bit of a sleepless night, with a fair bit of gross sobbing as certain things went down.

[Spoiler alert] When it came out without Eliza’s wishes that she was the author that everyone was obsessed with, she broke down. I also felt like I was breaking with her. The writing was so beautiful that I felt as though I were there, that my boyfriend and friends suddenly hated me. [End spoiler]

I was sobbing in the middle of the night, because the writing and characterisation was so perfect. I related so much to Eliza at that point. I understand how hard it can be to open up about things. Particularly big things. It seems easier to just keep it close to your chest, to never let it out. I’ve never had a secret as big as Eliza’s, but I’ve had moments where things have come out that I’ve been trying to keep in. It can be devastating, no matter how small it is, no matter how supportive people around you might be. It can be hard to have something like that come out.

Eliza wasn’t the only character I came to love in this book. Wallace was an absolute sweetheart. Then there’s Eliza’s family. Her brothers were wonderful, but I think I have to give some parent of the year awards to her parents. Certainly, they weren’t the best to begin with. They had some typical problems that parents of teenagers in Young Adult novels seem to have. They didn’t really understand their child, for one. However, when shit went down, they soon realised their mistakes. They fixed their ways, and worked hard to understand their child more. Zappia also did well to make it quite clear that it wasn’t purely the parent’s fault. Eliza wasn’t particularly open to her parents, to begin with. Yes, this is one of the things that a good parent aught to be aware of with their teenage children, and try to work around. Because, let’s face it, teenagers rarely talk to their parents. They’re almost never completely open with them about how they feel. I know I certainly wasn’t.

The ending was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was so real There was no “she was fixed, everything was perfect.” Instead, Eliza started working on her problems.

Another thing that made this book so beautiful and special was the art that Zappia shared throughout it. Art from Eliza’s webcomic Monstrous Sea. With it, there was also shared some of the backstory and facts about the webcomic. There were some beautiful quotes which had meaning not only within the webcomic and the novel, but which has more meaning beyond that.

“There are monsters in the sea,” and “You found me in a constellation.” There are so many other beautiful quotes, both those that were in the webcomic which Eliza and other characters reflect on throughout the book, and in the book itself. These two are simply some of my favourites. And I may need to choose between them one day as to which will be inked permanently upon my body. One day.

I will most certainly be reading this book again, and I cannot possibly recommend it enough for everyone else to read. I cannot understate how much I loved it. It was positively beautiful. It made me ugly cry late at night while desperate to finish. I loved the art, the characters, and the story telling so much. Everything about this book was absolutely beautiful, and even though I know I’ll cry when I read it again, it’s going to happen.

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