Before I Blogged is a feature here at The Musings of Jenni Elyse. The main idea is to discuss a book I’ve previously read and haven’t reviewed on this blog. There may be mild spoilers in this discussion.
I recently reread Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia for book club last month. I first read Eliza last year and instantly fell in love with it so much that I campaigned for my book club to read it.
The reason I wanted my book club to read it is I knew there’d be great discussion surrounding Eliza’s parents and the portrayal of mental illness.
Personally, I wanted to strangle Eliza’s parents. I know they meant well like most parents do, but I felt like her parents didn’t care about her comic because it wasn’t sports- or exercise-related. I felt like they didn’t even try to understand her or what was important to her.
“Eliza, you need to stop sitting at the computer. You’ll hurt your eyes.”
Mom has her head and shoulders through the doorway. I should have shut and locked the door before I started drawing. I straighten up and look away from the screen. My lower back screams. My eyes water. “I’m fine.” I have four more Monstrous Sea pages to finish before this chapter is done. I planned it all out; if I do at least four pages a week, I can finish by graduation. It will keep me sane through this last godforsaken semester of high school, and it’ll keep the fans happy after the Missing Pages debacle. I’ve spent the last three days doing nothing but drawing. “Can you please shut the door?”
“No. You need to get off the computer now.” She uses her mom voice. The one that gives me instant heartburn.
“I’m working,” I say without looking at her.
“Even hard workers need to take a break sometimes.”
“I can’t take a break. I have to get this done.”
“Mom, what do you think I’m doing here?” I swivel to face her. “Does it look like I’m taking a jaunty ride through the park? Like I’m having fun? Because I’m not having fun. I have to get this finished. People are expecting it. People who buy merchandise. Those people are going to pay for my college education.”
“Eliza Mary Mirk!”
“What do you want me to do once I get off the computer? Go play sports with Sully and Church, even though they hate it when I play because I have no coordination?”
If I were Eliza, I would’ve gotten frustrated and angry too. I would’ve felt like my parents didn’t understand me or didn’t listen. It’s not completely their fault, though. Eliza could’ve talked to them more, but as her parents, they needed to try harder to understand.
I liked the portrayal of mental illness in the book. It shows Eliza’s and Wallace’s anxiety in a way that’s easy to understand and relate to, at least for me it was. Wallace’s dad’s depression was realistic as was Eliza’s. I adored the double entendre of the title. And, I sobbed as I read parts of Eliza’s story. Even though I’m not an introvert, per se, I related to Eliza and even to Wallace in so many ways. I felt very seen while reading this book. I shared some of their monsters in high school and reading about them made me want to hug them both and tell them, “It’s okay. Life gets better.”
Have you read Eliza and Her Monsters? If so, what do you think about it? It’s okay if you don’t like it as much as I do or even at all. Why do you feel the way you do? Let’s have a discussion.