Book Review: Feeling Sorry For Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

I thought that after I was RAVING about this book I better try and get my feelings down in a somewhat coherent review.

Title: Feeling Sorry For Celia (Ashbury High #1)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Epistolary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: May 2000
Pages: 288
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope,” a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.

But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter…

A #1 bestseller in Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of letters, messages, postcards—and bizarre missives from imaginary organizations like The Cold Hard Truth Association.

Feeling Sorry for Celia captures, with rare acuity, female friendship and the bonding and parting that occurs as we grow. Jaclyn Moriarty’s hilariously candid novel shows that the roller coaster ride of being a teenager is every bit as fun as we remember—and every bit as harrowing.

My Review:

Feeling Sorry for Celia is a story told though letters and notes – both real and imagined in Liz’s head showing a very small snapshot of what life is like for somewhat typical Australian teenage girl. A scatter-minded yet well-meaning single mother, absent father and a best friend who runs away to join the circus are all parts of Liz’s life but somehow she keeps it all together.

Liz is a great narrator as such. Most of the letters within this novel are letters to her from organizations such as The Association of Teenagers. And then there’s Christina – the pen pal Liz’s teacher assigns her from a local high school. I loved the letters exchanged between these two. They’re honest and random and yet perfect. This is one of those books that make me remember just how much I love reading books set in Australia by Australian authors. There are things so intrinsically HERE about this book – things that I can’t even describe to people from overseas and yet I feel like other Aussies would know exactly what I’m talking about. I could relate to Liz in a way that feels bizarre consider how little we have in common and yet I felt like this book was a window into my teenage soul. Oh my… that sounds a little trite but I’m keeping it in because that’s exactly how I feel. 

One of my favourite things about this book is how relevant it still is. This book may have been first published over thirteen years ago but you wouldn’t know it. The concept of letter writing makes perfect sense within the constructs of this novel and I never once thought that the addition of technological advancements (such as email or text messaging) would have added anything extra to the novel.

This is a great novel that I can imagine appealing to young and old – and I can’t wait to make a trip to my nearest library and check out the rest of the books in this series!

Purchase the novel from:


Book Depository


  1. I’ve never heard of Jaclyn Moriarty but she does sound like an awesome author, plus I do love anything that is an aussie contemporary, they always have this unique aussie quality to them. Thanks for the review, I’ll be checking her out in my library very soon! =)

  2. I also know what you mean – Australian books have that lovely sense of familiarity. As I usually love books written in correspondence, I may have to seek it out even though it doesn’t sound like my usual reads. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty | whY.A.not?

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