Flight to the Stars (Samantha Mae Coyiuto)

I’ve been hearing many things about this book because it was written by one of my school’s alumnae. It holds three short stories that, according to the praise at the back, are about “the travails and triumphs of youth, the joys and sorrows that families live through, and the bittersweet springtime of love.”

When I read those words, I believed them to be real. But I was mistaken. Honestly, my expectations for this book were high but perhaps they shouldn’t have been – the author wrote this book when she was sixteen years old. On that note, I didn’t and still don’t understand why it said at the bottom of the back cover, “Anvil Young Adult Fiction.” YA? This is YA? You’ve got to be kidding me. Right?

Apparently, it wasn’t a joke. Flight to the Stars is Young Adult fiction. Well, apparently, in this case, YA fiction and realism don’t come hand in hand. The stories are just plain idealistic. We all want them to happen because they should. I mean, why not? These are good stories. They should happen, but at the same time, I know they won’t.

The first story, Flight to the Stars, and the third story, The Purple Box, were actually fine. They were nice, actually. The plots were good but the characters sounded so odd. I don’t know if it’s just me, but they sounded so fake, like someone was telling them what to say instead of them just saying what they wanted to. The narratives were all in the first person POV, but they also sounded fake, like someone was giving them cues on what to think at what moment.

Now, the second story. Almost all my problems with idealism in this book stem from the second story, Sapphire. It was about this girl named Sapphire who had body image issues. Really bad issues, I can conclude, especially as it was narrated by Sapphire herself: “My face looked like a red tomato punctured by needles. It’d be okay if I got one of those thin, model type bodies, but no, I had to get the body of a whale. I’m basically a real-life version of Mr. Potato Head, with hams for legs and arms. Most days, I wish I would wake up in some other person’s body. But that just happens in my dreams, and I’d wake up to see that nothing has changed.” So, Sapphire herself conceded that she had the body of a whale. Not to spoil and stuff but basically, just like nearly everyone else like that in the fictional character world, she got bullied by people with those thin, model type bodies. Now, because of this, she started becoming anorexic, starving herself, insisting she wasn’t starving herself, the like. Then because she fainted during P.E., her mom got called by the school. She then found out that due to her anorexia, her sister started becoming bulimic. Sapphire then started eating again. Hooray. Then she, with the help of the school principal, gave a speech to the student body, who stopped treating her like dirt after that. They even elected her prom queen. How awfully convenient!

Now, my issues with that plot are quite a lot, but the root is the same: that just doesn’t happen in reality. Firstly, I doubt it’s that easy to stop being anorexic. Anorexia is an eating disorder. It takes long to stop, unless you are very very very lucky. Maybe Sapphire is one of those very very very lucky people, but I wouldn’t know. Secondly, I think I can actually believe the part where they stopped bullying her… but the part where they elected her prom queen? I don’t think I can believe that. I suppose it’s true that teenagers are easy to influence but I don’t think they’re that easy to influence, especially if the person trying to influence them is someone they didn’t think much of before. But really. Prom queen? It seems more likely that the votes were out of sympathy. It’s actually difficult to win people over to your side, unless you are naturally charismatic and/or popular… or you are someone they feel sorry for…

Overall, though, I can only say this: if you’re looking for stories that have great potential in the field of idealism, this book is the one to read. Often I catch myself thinking things about this book that may be too harsh. Then I remember that the author wrote it when she was only sixteen. She has a lot to learn, I think, but you know what, I wouldn’t miss out on whatever she’ll write in the future.

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