The books of the Young-Adult or Y/A genre generally deal with a plethora of emotions offering the readers an expanded, larger-than-life view of life.
Gillian Felix’s Changes (The Family Portrait #1) offers the readers a crazy rollercoaster ride through the life of a number of teenagers and, how they manoeuvre in the labyrinths of life.
Several characters are introduced in the first few chapters of the book making me initially a tad baffled about the happenings. But once I’m accustomed to the writing style of the author, every piece of the puzzle begins falling in places.
There is no straight storyline, the book rather mixes and mingles several sub-plots to concoct an appealing one. All the subsets confront the problems of their life entangling with each other in the process; there is a teen soap-opera star who gets fired from her eight-year-long role, a family inherits a mansion while they are on the brink of bankruptcy, a pop star who wishes for a normal life, and, a model.
The ‘Changes’ through which all these characters go, the urge, need, and disappointment which make them accept changes in their life, have built up the story. Most of the happenings take place in the rich, ritzy environment of Westwood Academy, a private school where all the characters cross each other in some way or another.
The soap-operaesque narration is quite a pleasant read, but in such a case, as we often find, no particular character is delved deep into, nor the author has time to stop and stare for a moment at any specific one. Within a span of 85 pages (approx) she has done quite a commendable job, though.
The conciseness, according to me, is the strength and weakness of the book at the same time. At one hand, it provides the sense of a fast-paced, lucid, nowhere-to-stumble reading, but on the other, it leaves you with a sense of unfulfillment. I find the character development criterion a bit disappointing. I fail to grope into their emotions, be it sadness or joy….it leaves me with a superficial feeling.
However, Gillian has been able to keep the readers glued till the end. The novella ends with a cliffhanger creating much expectation for the sequel. The writing style of Gillian Felix is lucid and captivating. The dialogues are well formed and produce the desired effect on the readers. An overall pleasant read.
From my side, it’s 3.5/5
About The Author
Gillian Felix was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. She grew up watching night time soap operas by Aaron Spelling with her mother. That’s where her obsession with rich, powerful and devious characters were born. After repeatedly seeing Mr. Spelling’s name on the screen night after night, Gillian knew she wanted to be an Aaron Spelling, before she knew that Aaron Spelling was actually a person.
Gillian pursued drama in high school although it was not taught as a “serious subject”. When asked what career she wanted to pursue after graduation, she told her guidance counselor that she wanted to be an actress, and was told that acting is not a “real job”.
When Gillian moved to the US in 1998, she landed an internship with Spotlight On Theater in New York City, where she learned stage managing, casting and the technical aspect of running a production. Later she branched out into film, and fell in love with the behind the scenes action of film and theatre production. She traded acting and her “real job” for a career in film and theater production. Gillian continued writing novels and scripts but kept them to herself.
When not writing, Gillian can be found volunteering at the New Mexico Children’s Grief Center or hiking the many mountains that surround New Mexico. Gillian can easily get lost in a parking lot and considers herself directionally challenged. She is always grateful for the people she hikes with, because without them she’d be left roaming the mountains like a lost mountain goat.
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