About the Book

Title: Feeling Sorry for Celia (Ashbury/Brookfield #1)
Published: 2000
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: Okay
BFF Charm: Yes
Talky Talk: Epistolary Awesomeness
Bonus Factor: Pen Pals
Relationship Status: BFF Potential

Note: This is Book One in Jaclyn Moriarty’s awesome Ashbury-Brookfield series. However, all the books can be read independently or out of order. FYA previously reviewed Book Two, The Year Of Secret Assignments.

Cover Story: Okay

I’m not exactly a fan of BRIGHT PINK but there isn’t anything offensive about this cover. It certainly isn’t very exciting either. This cover is that kid who had a class with you nearly every semester in high school but you can’t ever recall their name.

The Deal:

Elizabeth is having an interesting school year. Her wacky best friend Celia keeps disappearing. This time for good, it seems, when she receives a postcard saying Celia has run away to join the circus. Her dad, who has lived in Canada her whole life, just moved to Sydney for the year and is trying to kindle a father-daughter relationship. Her mother’s communication with her consists of notes left on the fridge. And maybe there’s a boy (or two?) to peak her interest on the bus. Plus, her English teacher has just initiated the inaugural year of the great Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program and Elizabeth finds herself sharing her secrets with a potential new friend Christina.

BFF Charm: Yes

Yay BFF Charm

Elizabeth would make a great friend. She’s funny, sarcastic and smart. There are not too many people who will make a train-length trip to the circus just to make sure their friend in okay. And Christina is equally as awesome. Mostly I want to take my BFF charm and give both halves to Christina AND Elizabeth so they can give it to each other. They are both so great and really deserve each other.

Celia, however, does not win any charms from me. Even though Elizabeth still loves her, I had a hard time putting up with her flighty, guilt-mongering ways.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Elizabeth has never had a boyfriend, so she’s a little naive in the guy department (or so the Association of Teenagers tells her). There is one boy who is major disappointment, but another boy who has potential. Elizabeth has an anonymous suitor who takes to leaving notes in her backpack while on the bus. Utterly cute. But overall, this book doesn’t really pack any heavy swoons.

Talky Talk: Epistolary Awesomeness

Just like the other works in this series, Moriarty writes in an epistolary format. Most of the narrative takes place within letters between Elizabeth and Christina and its here that Moriarty’s writing is at its most honest. There are occasional notes on the fridge between Elizabeth and her mom and a postcard or two from Celia. The narrative gets quirky with Elizabeth “receiving” various letters from societies that tell her when she is succeeding and failing at different life endeavors, and these groups have names like the Association of Teenagers or the Best Friends Club. For example, when Elizabeth finds herself crushing on the cute boy from her bus, she receives several self-deprecating missives, such as:

Dear Elizabeth Clarry,

We feel that it is our duty to ensure that you are not getting any crazy ideas. This young man who’s been talking to you on the bus? What’s his name – Saxon Walker? He is simply not ever going to be interested in you.

My dear child, he is a popular boy, a cool boy, smart, funny, athletic and gorgeous. Perhaps in your imagination such a boy might be interested in you. But never in reality, Elizabeth. Never.

You are merely a running partner to him. No more.

We do not wish to offend you, only to warn you.

Best wishes,


Dear Ms. Clarry,

Okay, first of all, don’t get your hopes up here. This is NOT an invitation to join our society. Not that we think you’re really hideous or anything, but you’ve got to be kidding! Ever seen your ears, Elizabeth? Ever seen the freckles on your arms?

Anyway, we’re sure we don’t have to explain about that.

We are actually writing to discuss a different (but connected) issue. See, there are certain types of boys in the world, and there are certain types of girls. For example, there are ugly girls and there are ugly boys. It’s perfectly okay for an ugly boy to ask out an ugly girl. Just as it’s perfectly okay for an ordinary girl to go out with an ordinary boy. Sometimes, if necessary, an ordinary girl might even choose to go out with an ugly boy, depending on how desperate she gets.

But the point is, it is never okay for an ordinary girl to out with a beautiful boy. It would be like some kind of a distortion in the universe.


With very kindest wishes,
The Society of Beautiful People (SOB. P)

Ouch. Burn.

Bonus Factor: Pen Pals

A handwritten note from Stephanie, who is mad at Kyle for not answering her calls

Pen pals! They are STILL awesome. It is great to see Elizabeth and Christina connecting, opening up and revealing more about themselves through their letters. It reminds me of how sometimes it so much easier to open up to others on the internet, especially in high school. Also, WHY DON’T I HAVE PEN PAL FRIENDS?

Relationship Status: BFF Potential

Just like Elizabeth and Christina, I feel like I’ve gotten to know this book very well over the course of its letters. We may not be best friends yet, but if things keep up, we very well could be. In fact, I’m about two books away from stalking writing Jaclyn Moriarty and asking for her to please, please be my new best friend.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Feeling Sorry For Celia is available now.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.