Manny Kassel is in 7th grade, 6ft tall and has a boy’s name. Even though she’s a girl. Has fitting in always been this difficult?
Based on a true story
Note: Life as a Caterpillar contains some harsh language.
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Feb 27, 2013: This thirteen year old math prodigy sounds quite seriously depressed. There are no immediate traumas going on in her life, but the typical teen angst – not fitting in, doubting herself. Mathematicians will appreciate her metaphors. The blogfic ("based on a true story") has been well received, but it’s unclear if it is continuing, as there have been no posts since January 2013.
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Feb 10, 2013: Life as a Caterpillar isn’t exactly my usual reading material. It sold me anyways.
LaaC is a blogfic, a story told through a series of blog posts from a fictional character about fictional events. It doesn’t set its sights on any epic tale or tension-ridden grand adventure. It’s merely the words of a math-obsessed, freakishly tall preteen.
All that said, it does what it sets out to do, which is to give an insight into this character’s mind as she gets by day to day. She uses the one thing she understands, Math, to make sense of a world she can’t quite get her head around. Her family members are real numbers (because they can be irrational), roller coasters are beziers and boys are monomials (because they’re so simple). These metaphors can weave into one another in a way that’s clever, but still feels natural: the authorial voice remains fitting for a seventh grader, and nothing ever gave me the sense of an adult lurking behind the curtain.
Is it the most attractive site? No. Images stud each post, some animated and distracting, others glaring or vividly colored. But this -works-, because of what the story is. Anything it sacrifices in aesthetic it offers in immersion, selling the character of the seventh grader who’d be putting it all together. And that’s great. That’s what a blogfic should strive to accomplish.
All in all, LaaC has a definite charm to it. It’s unique, and the quiet confusion and emotion of a girl who doesn’t fit into the world and doesn’t fully understand it comes through poignantly. For that experience alone, I found it well worth reading. This isn’t the kind of caterpillar that needs to transform into a butterfly before it can catch your eye.