A Raw Mix of Carelessness and Longing by Cecilia Frey


A Raw Mix of Carelessness and Longing is a book that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I got this YA novel as a gift from the Word on the Street folks for volunteering. What I should have done is start reading this lovely Canadian novel the minute I got my hands on it. Of course it ended up taking months for me to actually read it, and now I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. That’s how awesome this book is.

Lilah Cellini fell in love with Jamey Popilowski the very first time she laid eyes on him. Maybe it was because, even then, Jamey was moving to his own tune. When music calls Jamey away from their prairie home, Lilah joins him and the two begin a new life: him as one of hundreds of wannabe musicians in Vancouver, and her as Jamey’s girl. As Jamey becomes absorbed in the musician’s lifestyle and all of its excesses, Lilah must learn to make her own choices and find her own voice.

The book starts with the two of them as children living in two apartments in the same house on Terrabain street and follows them right into adulthood. Told from Lilah’s painfully honest and occasionally confused first-person narrative, this is a heartbreaking story. Through her eyes we see the rise and fall of Jamey and of their relationship. In some ways, this is Jamey’s story as told by Lilah. In other ways, it’s her story, the story of her growing up.

What really stuck out to me is how honest this book is. From the pure love between Jamey and Lilah that seems unbreakable to Lilah’s inner conflicts when their relationship falls apart even to the drugs Jamey does and the bad gigs his band hits, this book is nothing if not honest. Cecilia Frey has a masterful ear for dialogue and the disjointed way Lilah remembers some conversations is more realistic than dialogue in… well, most of the books I’ve ever read, actually. Every once in a while, during conversations involving several people, you’ll encounter a dialogue tag that goes ‘someone said’. This imperfection in Lilah’s memory is one of the things that makes the book great.

Another reason I love this book is because of how Canadian it is. At one point, when Lilah casually mentions smoking a joint, I actually thought ‘wow, this is really Canadian’. Why? Because a lot of American novels and movies sensationalize drug use. Writers often use drugs in their stories to push a point–they want kids to stay off drugs, usually. In A Raw Mix of Carelessness and Longing, the drugs aren’t there to prove a point. They’re just there, part of the rock star lifestyle just like the travelling and the endless hours spent recording. I find Canadian authors are generally more comfortable allowing things like drugs into their stories without turning them into a message, and Cecilia Frey does this well.

One of my favourite parts of the book is when Lilah tells us about Jamey’s turtles who got soft shell. She’s talking about telling the story of turning these turtles out into the river to her friend Carmen. Carmen always tells her not to put up with Jamey’s crap, and at the end of the story, Lilah–just to the reader–says something along the lines of if she’s gone through that with him, maybe it’s worth putting up with his crap. Lilah’s attitude is one I’ve seen in many relationships around me and one I could understand.

A Raw Mix of Carelessness and Longing is one book I will never forget. Completely enchanted with the honest narration and Lilah herself, I have laughed, cried and gasped all while reading this book. It explores many different stages of life and different emotions, and includes some beautiful lyrics. I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes music and honest stories written about women.

You can purchase a copy of A Raw Mix of Carelessness and Longing here.

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About Dianna Gunn

I am a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. My first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing.

Posted on April 25, 2012, in Book Reviews, Reading Related, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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