BOOK REVIEW: INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold

“Infandous” (adj.): Something so terrible that it is unspeakable.

Sephora Golding has a secret that is definitely defined well in her story’s title. Born and raised in Venice Beach, CA, the sixteen-year-old has always seen her life not so much as her own, but as an extension of her mother’s radiant beauty and somewhat tragic story. Sephora’s life revolves around her single mom, their tiny apartment, and her fairy tale art.

But Sephora’s fairy tale isn’t a Disney classic. It’s a strange, twisted journey with some seriously unsettling edges. INFANDOUS studies the fallout after Sephora has a fling with a much older man, all the while her mother begins a tentative relationship with someone much younger. Can possessive, unmotivated, but brilliantly creative Sephora find her own place in the world? Or will she be forever changed by her fairy tale turned grim?

It’s important to note that while there’s lots of gruesome old school fairy tale and Greek myth references and retellings, Sephora’s story is in no way mythological or supernatural. Hers is the most real form of realism out there, ingrained in the actions of everyday life and in no way sugarcoated.

INFANDOUS is a very introspective character study, however– One that may not work for some readers. The story works to capture Sephora in the moment and thus remains fairly stagnant. The main character isn’t always the most relatable, but you’re always curious about where her story is leading. Supporting characters like her mother, her mother’s prospective love interest, and her best friend help fill out the world nicely, but only her mother is treated with any sort of importance.

If you want action, romance, or humor, you’re really not going to get it from this book. Instead, it’s a smart but sharp look into the reality behind teen apathy, discovering oneself, and adjusting to life with a terrible secret weighing you down. Of course, Sephora learns along the way that the “fairy tales” of her childhood are artificial hoaxes and the real stories underneath are both more terrifying and compelling. This oftentimes means the main character discovers the worst in people, so it’s not always a feel-good novel. But if you find real world grit and honesty engrossing, you may just love this novel!

INFANDOUS hits bookshelves on March 1, 2015! It is currently available for pre-order

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