Cinnamon Toast And The End Of The World, 2013
Signed up the 25/04/2017
I knew when I started reading the first few pages that this would be a book I love. The title alone had me thinking – what exactly is this book going to be about; and in true literature fashion, the title was quite telling but not in the way you would expect.
Cinnamon toast and the end of the world is a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy, Stephen Shulevitz, whose world comes to an end when he realizes he has fallen in love with the wrong person – his best friend, Mark. Sitting in the basement of his home watching television, he realizes in that moment that life as he knows it will never be the same again. Stephen is afraid and seemingly the right thing to do is run away from home, but what happens when he is forced to face his feelings head on?
A stunning debut from Janet E. Cameron – this witty and razor sharp story tackles various subjects – including homophobia in the height of the AIDS epidemic, bullying, child abuse and parental negligence. Stephen struggles to come to terms with his sexuality, while having to deal with his overbearing mother, estranged father, homophobic and overtly religious male best friend, and punk/goth-girl best friend. At a time when being different was wrong, we see queer concerns in an era which was becoming of stereotypes.
The novel is set in 1987, in a small town in Canada called Nova Scotia. With nothing to do, you get to see what motivates the behavioral patterns of the teenagers in the story, which is boredom rather than sheer knowledge. It is, however, not your typical house party, high school drama, teenage romance. The incentive to continue reading is driven by the pure desire to see how the story and life of Stephen unfolds. It may not answer all your questions directly but it is the unpredictability that makes it of great interest. Being 17 years old and only having a few months left of high school, this book proves how much can happen in a short period of time and the growth one can experience therein.
I like how Stephen was not at times the most likable person but he and every other character are so impressively written, that they become wonderfully imperfect. His mess is a part of what makes him so unique. He’s quite timid but also intelligent and insightful, which can be frustrating because he is so much in his head. It nails the experience of being a closet queer teenager – having to deal with isolation, fear, confusion, and sexual urges while also tackling the challenges of being secretly in love with your best friend. Even though you know that it’s not going to happen, you quietly hope that you might be wrong. The novel also takes a dark turn for example when Mark uncovers Stephen’s sexuality & feelings and when we discover Stephen’s suicide attempt.
I did not prepare my emotions for how this book would make me feel. This is the type of book you read in one sitting. Simply putting the book down to take a break would prove impossible. The ending was very open-ended which was a surprise for me. The author Janet states in the back of the book that it symbolizes hope and a new beginning for Stephen’s life – of which I agree. You desperately yearn for more and it gives you anticipation of the future and the possibility of a new one. I think that’s what I love about coming-of-age stories – how candid and earnest they are, something the author excels at, making it a very unique story for everyone to read.
Signed up the 28/03/2017I've seen this novel on a lot of coming-of-age lists. I wasn't really sure what to expect really, especially by looking at the title but I'm definitely picking it up now. Especially because I've been on a shameful hunt for reads of this nature after Netflix's take on 13 Reasons Why (burries head).
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