The Rule of thirds by chantel guertin
January 13, 2015
Okay guys, I need for you to let this sink in for me a bit. My amazing friend Sam works at an amazing Canadian publishing house, ECW Press, and she amazingly asked yours truly to write some reviews for their books.
Guys. I got commissioned!
She also amazingly asked me what I wanted to write about. I looked through ECW's list and Chantel Guertin's books immediately caught my eye. From the gorgeous cover art to a YA novel about a female photographer? Sold.
So, it begs the question as to why I've been such a procrastinator about writing this review.
I'm glad you asked. It's cuz I'm totally freaking out (trust me, this actually leads in to what this book is about). I was feeling so anxious about writing this review because this was no longer just for me. A friend asked me for it and I now have someone I need to impress. Cue: procrastination.
Now Pippa Greene, our lovely protagonist of Chantel Guertin's The Rule of Thirds is anything but a procrastinator. She is an avid photographer and the entire novel centres around her preparation for a photography contest. If she wins, she'll get a place at a camp at Tisch, the university she hopes to attend after high school. She's got a good head on her shoulders, two boys vying for her attention and an amazing best friend.
All of that stuff kept me flipping through pages like a madwoman. Guertin nails the language of millennial sixteen year-olds (though it panged my heart when neither Pippa nor her best friend Dace knew what a boombox was when John Cusack in Say Anything placed one above his head. These kids these days!), nails the insecurity and foolishness that they sometimes exhibit and also totally passes the Bechdel test multiple times (because girls don't always talk about boys, thank you very much).
Pippa's photography competition was also incredibly compelling. Watching her come up with her photographic ideas and having Guertin have to bring them to life through words is why I love writing so much. This is a photography book without photos and yet you know exactly what Pippa is shooting and the emotion that each picture evokes. That's not so easily done and yet it is flawlessly written in The Rule of Thirds.
Pippa is a totally fascinating character.
But all that is not what got me interested in her.
Pippa Greene has an anxiety disorder.
Now I'm not going to get in to what causes this disorder (that's why you have to read the book, silly!) but the most impressive part of this novel for me was Guertin's amazing description of Pippa's journey through therapy and her many panic attacks.
As someone who has lived with anxiety all of her life, it's taken me a while to know how to really handle it (and let's be real, there are plenty of times where I do not handle it well at all). It was incredibly refreshing to read about a character like me who lies to her therapist (despite knowing that that's literally the opposite of helpful) because she wants to make it seem like the therapist is doing well (seriously, the opposite of helpful). Pippa struggles with panic attacks, something I am unfortunately familiar with. Guertin puts you right into Pippa's shaking body and spinning head to an uncomfortable degree but she really tells you exactly what this character is going through.
Despite this, Pippa is able to persevere because of her creativity. She has her photography, something that she is so passionate about, something that is able to cut through all the red tape in her brain so that she can be calm and so that she can create. Despite often being a little bit nervous about writing (um... a lot nervous at times), writing, for me, is what photography is to Pippa. It cuts through all the stuff that makes us panic because we are doing something for ourselves that shows our passion to others.
All that in under 200 pages. Chantel, that is impressive.
Luckily for me (and for all of you!), Sam has sent me the second book in the series, Depth of Field which I will be reviewing next week! Until then, check out ECW Press's amazing list of amazing Canadian content. You will not be sorry.
I am also participating in PopSugar's 2015 Reading Challenge. Depth of Field will definitely be put on this list but if you have any suggestions for books to either read and/or review, let me know!