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The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project ~ Lenore Appelhans

January 10, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Carolrhoda Lab
ISBN: 9781541512597
272 pages
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

So, I have a confession.

When I was younger, I loved the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (or Boy when they were present) trope. I resonated with the spunky, energetic, quirkiness so much. I’ve always been a little bit MPDG, probably.

But as I got older, I started looking at the trope a little bit differently. While I was a free spirit and hyperactive, I still had my own goals and dreams. I won’t turn this into a dissertation on gender role expectations but needless to say, I fell out of love with the role type, at least in the more obvious incarnations (I’m looking at you, Garden State and Elizabethtown.)

Flashforward to the present and I find myself longing for the days when I had fewer grounded responsibilities. I think that’s why The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project resonated with me so deeply. Most of the appeal of the trope is that we all gravitate toward the spark we’ve either lot along the way, or never had to begin with. The shining, sparkly, fun, abandon calls to even the grumpiest among us.

Without giving too much of the story away, the book follows Riley, a Trope Town Manic Pixie Dream Boy, through what is sure to be a world-ending, disaster of an identity crisis, as his entire existence is called into question by the authority he and the rest of the town’s stock characters answer to. Through self-questioning, group therapy, and yes, manic pixie hijinx, a much deeper, softer, undercurrent of discovery runs through the story.

The bok turned out to be far deeper and more complex than I anticipated but then again, that’s the thing with Manic Pixie Dream folks; they just look sparkly when we’re down in the dumps and they come to rescue us. Off the page, they tend to be full, whole people with their own identities. And so are we.

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