Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
Adele Griffin
Soho Teen, 2014  241 pgs
Grades 9-12
Realistic Fiction

A fictional biography tracing the short life of New York City artist and "It Girl", Addison Stone.  Griffin, herself a fictionalized character, offers a note at the beginning explaining how she was briefly acquainted with Addison and her desire to capture her story.  We see Addison's life from childhood through young adulthood through a series of interviews, e-mails, newspaper and magazine stories, photographs, and pictures of her art work.  Through all the pieces of the puzzle a young troubled, yet highly creative and talented, person shines through.Too bright for her small town, Addison moves to New York City the summer before what should be her senior year in high school.  Her work becomes highly celebrated and she emerges as a trend setting party girls, whose personality and outrageous stunts add to her persona.  Through it all, we see Addison's battle with mental illness, as she is constantly followed by, Ida (a ghost?), who disappears when Addison is taking her medicine.  Eventually the bright light that is Addison goes out as she topples off the Manhattan Bridge while hanging her latest piece of art.  Did one her former boyfriends push her, as authorities suspect, or did she simply fall on her own?  Was it an accident or suicide?  These are the answers that the author seeks to uncover.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is a cool and clever book.  It reminds me of Cathy's Book, which was popular about ten years ago with teenagers, that contained an internet element that made the book seem like it was a real story.  Addison Stone feels like a real story.  I even googled her after reading the book to see if she existed in any way.  She didn't.  The author based her character on a real girl, who is featured in the photos.  The photos are great as is the enclosed artwork.  The design of the book is amazing.  Griffin did a commendable job in writing the story and each character interviewed has a distinctive voice. The plot itself is a bit lacking.  This is a "concept book" and less of a linear story and more of a well-designed and executed collection of faux-interviews and visuals.  The book labels itself as a mystery.  I guess the mystery is to determine: what really happened to Addison that night on the bridge and how she died.  We also wonder as to whether Ida was a delusion of Addison's or a spirit.  We never find out in either case.  The mysteries remains mysteries and by the time I got there, I frankly didn't care.  Addison, herself, is a very selfish and unlikable person, who is unrelatable.  The book looks like it should read quickly, considering it contains so many visuals, but it read very slowly for me.  This may be because I kept forgetting who the many characters in Addison's life were and who it was speaking.  All of these quibbles aside, young creative teenagers will love this book.  Street art is very fashionable right now and the life Addison lives is one that artistically minded kids crave.  From the parties to the New York City art scene, this is a fashionable world where most of us will never visit, except through books and media.  Is it realistic that an eighteen year old girl becomes a highly collectible artist overnight?  Perhaps not, but teenagers won't care.  This book is sure to become the "It Book" with teen fashionistas everywhere.

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