Life was easier when I didn't have the flu. When I could board a train to Devon and spend a weekend exploring antique shops and stumbling (quite literally) into greenhouses filled to bursting with vintage wedding dresses. When I could eat hot dogs loaded with mustard while meandering through flea markets. When I could catch up with old friends late into the night over bottles of wine and a feast of Indian food. But alas, I'm quarantined in a duvet burrito, trying to launch a new creative project so I don't feel entirely sabotaged by my own immune system. 

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I'd say that I don't know why I read YA books, since they almost always end in disappointment. Except, I do know why I read this particular one - and that's because it felt like exactly what I needed. Firstly, when I bought it I hadn't finished a book in four months and YA literature seemed like a scalable mountain; secondly, it was written by Jennifer Niven, the same author who wrote All The Bright Places, which I regret to admit reduced me to a crumpled mess of tears on a southwestern train.

As it turns out, my reasons for reading Holding Up The Universe were right by one count. Yes, I did finish it. But no, I did not feel moved in any way afterwards. In fact, I ended up feeling slightly icky about it, especially when I indulged in my favourite hobby - reading bad reviews on Goodreads.

Here's the problem. Not only are the two central characters entirely one-dimensional, but they're attracted to each other precisely because of their single defining characteristics. In short, Libby is fat and Jack has a neurological condition, which makes them a great match. Now, I understand that the point of the book (and many other YA books that tackle similar issues) is to talk about overcoming adversity. But! Why not illustrate the point by actually allowing characters to do that? Rather than continuing to narrate the cycle of insecurity and prejudice. It seems lazy, somehow.



Back in December, the latest issue of Severine Literary Journal was published ft. my creative non-fiction, 'He Painted The Stars.' My collage (painstakingly put together with a glue stick and hundreds of tiny triangles) was also chosen for cover art. Both were inspired by an American artist called Joseph Cornell; they reflect on his life in New York and his habit of collecting stars - not just the celestial kind, but special trinkets discovered at flea markets and thrift shops, too.

A selfish part of me wishes I'd never shared his story, for the same reason that I used to hide my favourite toys when friends visited for play dates. (Is that an only-child thing?) In short, it's hard to share what we love most. But the rational part of me understands that he cannot be stolen. So, if you do read it, let me know what you think. And perhaps you might share your secret love in return?

This issue of Severine Literary Journal was published in December 2016. You can read it online here or buy a copy of your own. Submissions are also open until January 31st 2017 for work related to the latest theme - wild