For Cinnamon, dreaming of imaginary worlds and characters is her only escape from her mother’s breakdowns. Her grandmother’s overbearing control. Her family’s turmoil. But Cinnamon is discovering something special about herself, a gift from deep within that sets her apart: a talent for the theater that would finally give her a chance…to truly escape.

You have to be a wonderful actress or actor to survive in this world. I thought. Controlling your face, your voice, your posture and most of all being able to invent reasons and excuses to answer questions are the real skills of self-defense. To me, especially lately, going out in the world with honesty on your lips was the same as going out naked.

giphy (1).gifCinnamon is 16 and is rushed home by her authoritative grandma when her mother starts acting crazy after having suffered a miscarriage at the age of 42. She is committed to a mental institution and soon after, the grandmother starts taking over the house, refurnishing and erasing any trace of her daughter-in-law. Cinnamon (what a stripper name!) goes back to school and tries to continue with her acting studies.

There’s something about growing up, about being in society and mixing with real people that restricts your imaginative powers. If you say something that seems like fantasy, people laugh at you or make you feel self-conscious about it, so you smother your make-believe and drive the creative thoughts down into the grave, bury them in the cemetery of originality, and work harder at being like everyone else, safe, unremarkable, just some more wallpaper. It takes courage to revive your imagination and risk the ridicule. In an ironic sense, it takes a brave soul to contrive exaggerations, fantasies, elaborate and eloquent lies.

Cinnamon is not the only one wanting to live in an illusion – a place where her mother is coming back home and the intrusive grandma disappears – so does her mother. The ill woman suffers from severe depression and is delusional. She believes that her unborn child she miscarried somehow survived and is living fine and well in the pre-natal care unit. The father is taking it all in as best as he can, he tries to steer clear of the grandmother (his mother) and sees his wife in the hospital as often as he can.

I dreaded going home, not only because of what else I might find my grandmother had changed but because Mommy’s absence, the heavy silence in light of where she now was, would be hard to face.

As the days pass, the grandmother starts taking over the breakfast, imposing new rules for the daughter and trying to gain access to her locked bedroom. Cinnamon finds out that her dad was seeing another woman and that her mother had slipped into a coma! Oh, the drama!

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Grandma takes it up a notch and she shows some pretty handyman skills as she installs a lock on Cinnamon’s door and demands to know where’s she’s going. Now, we only know one part of the story – as told from Cinnamon’s perspective. Maybe grandma crazy was actually quite a reasonable person – worried about her only grandchild, trying to keep the house together and everyone healthy until the mother comes back from the hospital. Maybe Cinnamon is also delusional and mentally unstable like her mother. Maybe she enjoys the drama and attention and has a teenage wild-streak that can easily degenerate in thefts and lying if left out of hand.  I started to feel that I needed a second eye on this story!

It felt so good. I was safe, wrapped in the cocoon of the imaginary world, the characters, the time and the place. I was no longer here in a house where sad tears streaked the walls, where dark shadows brushed away our smiles, where old voices full of disappointments and trouble echoed in the silences that hung in every corner during the hours when darkness draped over us and the moon fell victim to night’s long thick clouds.

As the mother slowly recovers, Cinnamon keeps her up-to-date with all the gossip going around. The mother has an interesting piece of insight that might apply to Cinnamon herself.  “Life for most people is so boring, they have to find ways to make it interesting, even if it means hurting someone. Watch out for that.” she warned. “It’s not only the jealous who do such things. Cinnamon. It’s sometimes just people who literally have nothing better to do. Sometimes, I think they’re the worst.”

As I continued reading, I started forming an image in my mind. Half of me thinks that Cinnamon is a normal teenager with a shitty grandma, the other part thinks she’s suffering from a mental condition.

“I guess when the truth is painful, it’s better to turn to illusion,” I said.

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Fantasy prone personality (FPP) is a disposition or personality trait in which a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy.This disposition is an attempt, at least in part, to better describe “overactive imagination” or “living in a dream world”.An individual with this trait (termed a fantasizer) may have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality and may experience hallucinations, as well as self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms. Closely related psychological constructs include daydreaming, absorption and eidetic memory.

Well, all works out in the end, Cinnamon gets to go to acting school, grandma moves out and father confesses that he didn’t have an affair but pretended to be someone’s romantic interested to get out of a financial hole.

All in all, the book didn’t suck as much as the others, but it still was a far cry from other teen books. The dialogue is peppered with “mammy and daddy” notions which you wouldn’t hear in the mouths of any 16 year old anywhere. Cheap entertainment and cheap read.

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