Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review: The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet

Not sure if I say this very often about a book, but this story came into my life at the absolute perfect time. I'm sure that others have experienced this same thing, but this book hit so close to home at a time where I needed this exact brand of encouragement in my life, I feel like I'll burst if I didn't share this with all of you.

Ever since the end of this summer, when I finished with my post-grad program in Creative Book Publishing, I've been struggling with a lot of personal issues, along with having to answer a lot of hard questions. What do I want to do with my life? Am I a failure for picking the wrong path to take with my schooling? What sort of job am I qualified to do now? The biggest question of all for me, out of all of them, turned out to be the shortest one: What's next?

In this book that takes place after the events of the Emmy award-winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and after the events of the novelization, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, Lydia faces many of the same issues and struggles with what to do with her life when she isn't feeling as solid about who she is, what she wants to do, and what she is capable of achieving in her life. She's on the verge of a big change in her life: Finish a couple summer credits at her community college to receive her associate's degree, finish the application for the "real" college in San Francisco, and then move out there with her cousin Mary to go to school as a psych major, to spend time closer to her middle sister and her cousin, and to finally get past the events of George Wickham and the sex tape and everything that being famous on the internet brought into her life.

Things don't work out the way that they should, and that's all I can say without getting into spoiler territory. But the important thing is, while things diverge from the path that Lydia set up for herself in the aftermath of the George incident, the one person that feels the least amount of surprise is Lydia herself. She was known in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries videos as the irresponsible, impulsive one of the three Bennet sisters. Anyone who has watched the entirety of the series knows that there is so much more depth to Lydia's character than that, but when things start to go south in The Epic Adventures..., Lydia sees it as her moving back into her old pattern of being a complete screw-up. That's how she sees it, at least.

Whether it's related to my selection of mental illnesses or my own gloomy perspective on my future, I can relate to how Lydia feels throughout the majority of this book, as I'm sure many other people can as well. When you have an uncertainty connected to how you think about your career, your relationships, your family, or the future at large, it is easy to see yourself as a failure whether you possess a track record of failing or not. It can also cause you to focus most of your energy on yourself without giving it a second thought, when perhaps it might be better to work at understanding the people around you, and through that understanding yourself, by listening instead of talking. I also could relate to those moments where Lydia tried really, really hard to achieve her goals, giving it 110% and still managed to fail at some things. It took quite a bit of time for me to come to terms with this aspect of reality, and in some ways I think I'm still working through it, but the ways in which Lydia managed to pick herself back up were inspirational.

It may have been slow going at first, while I was catching myself up on everything Lydia had been up to since Lizzie's web series ended, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I feel it is one that relates to a lot of young adults like myself, and if it weren't mainly accessible to only those familiar with this series, I would recommend it to pretty much everyone I know. Lydia is a complex, troubled, flawed, tough, confident, and all around "adorbs" protagonist, and I think this novel has the potential to inspire many other readers.

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