Before I start, it should be noted this book had been released previously outside the US under the title of “My Life as the Alphabet.”   The Categorical Universe of Candice PheeIn addition, I should point out that having read/review three rock romance novels by Nicky Wells, I’ve already became adjusted to the British spelling and usage of words contained in this book, which for some readers might take a little getting used to.

When I first once opened the book and flipped through the pages I immediately got transported to the first grade [or was it Kindergarten] and had a primer to read. You know what I’m talking about; A is for Apple, B is for Boy, C is for Cat.

As I read the first chapter of this book, “A is for Assignment,” I immediately began to realize that you need to read as Barry Jonsberg meant it to be read. You need to read coming from the first person POV of Candice Phee herself, as she’s the one who’s actually writing this story.

This came about because her teacher, Miss Bamford, had given her an assignment to write a simple essay consisting of twenty-six paragraphs with each paragraph starting a letter of the alphabet concerning something which had happened to you in the past. However, Candice, knowing she couldn’t adequately tell her story in a mere twenty-six paragraphs, decided to write several paragraphs for each letter instead; and even mentioned she’d already written sixteen paragraphs for the letter “A” at one point. And as you might suspect she already envisioned having problems with the letters “Q” and “X.”

Candice’s entire family seems to be dysfunctional as her father’s despondent because a certain confrontation which had occurred eons ago; her mother’s totally depressed to do a double mastectomy and having lost a child to SIDS. Her now rich Uncle Brian uses his wealth attempting to win other people’s affection. And even though she has no idea whatsoever in terms of what she’s doing, Candice is continuously trying to fix her family’s multitude of problems on her own. It is because of this she seem to be the embodiment of being “quirky” in her personality.

As we read subsequent chapter and letter of the alphabet, we see more and more of the episodic existence Candice has to endure to survive. I truly enjoyed reading this, the first of Barry Jonsberg’s books I’ve had the pleasure to read. I feel it would be best suited to be read by children aged ten or more, and in the fifth grade. While the book would be something girls would tend to read more than boys—boys should not be forgotten as part of the audience of potential readers, since some of things Candice did, boys would be usually more apt to do than girls.

I believe the US title for this book is more appropriate than its counterpart in Australia and the rest of the world since it more aptly describes Candice’s world one letter of the alphabet at a time.

I consider myself privileged to have received a free ARC [Advanced Reader’s Copy – Uncorrected] copy of this book, which I got as part of GoodRead’s GiveAway program. The above has been my honest opinion regardless the manner I’ve received this copy of the book. And I’m there happy to give “The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee” the 5 STARS it deserves.

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