Oh, book. Our relationship should have been amazing, but instead I closed you and felt as if maybe I had wasted too much of my life’s time trying to understand where you went wrong. But slowly it hit me. I won’t lie and say it was me and not you. It really was you.
Dear readers, there be spoilers within, but mild.
After my magical three hours spent reading “The Probability of Miracles” while in a hospital in early January, a time spent as an assistant caretaker for my grandfather dying of terminal colon cancer while woefully unemployed, I went into “The Museum of Intangible Things” expecting nothing less than close to perfect. The synopsis wooed me in with the promise of a road trip between two best friends trying to escape from the lives that fate has made for them. The cover promised me cute, twee, hipster-y, hippie-ish, and fun.
Instead, I got a story about a girl with severe bipolar depression (Zoe) recovering from what might possibly have been rape and her best friend (our narrator), a girl weighted down by her lackluster parents, illegally run school system, and inability to dream big.
“The Museum of Intangible Things” was one of the most illogical, improbable, ridiculous, and unfathomably silly books I have read, all with having a big dose of the inexplicable thrown in, such as how a town 45 minutes from Manhattan in New Jersey has an extremely broke high school that offers nothing other than remedial classes, leaving smart kids to sneak into the expensive day school on the hill to watch classes from the attic after their one class a day. Or how Manhattan-area news channels still have drunken weather readers who make fools of themselves and steal their daughter’s money. Or how reenacting a scene from Twister with people could ever come out well.
But what especially irked me was the fact that this book, while having a better depiction of mental illness than better (Zoe was never depicted as the stereotypical villain as many YA books do – see “Wicked Games”), the fact that Hannah KNEW her friend was going off the deep end did not do anything to stop her. Not after she tasered an Ikea security guard, or stole from a number of stores, or lied and connived to her friend, or ran off in Vegas to get drunk and put herself in danger. Not after she admitted her psychiatrist was going to have her committed to a psych ward for a stay because she was a danger to herself with her irrational thinking. Not after her best friend admitted to a severe delusion that could kill her.
In Hannah’s world of being a horrible friend, she indulges Zoe’s delusions and allows her to grow more and more sick by the moment, listening to Zoe’s poor attempts at teaching Hannah “how to live” in the same way Zoe taught her severely autistic brother to live – the Museum of Intangible Things, a revolving show of concepts on life created through dioramas, exhibits, and lectures in their basement. Except for Hannah, her Museum of Intangible Things was delivered in one cross country road trip full of crime and deceit.
On top of this, we are treated to a romance that makes no sense based off of a few moments of conversation and some event in the past that is not really mentioned. I even forgot Hannah’s love interest’s name. Daniel perhaps? He was boring, perfect, and completely rude to the girlfriend he ditched and dissed to prove to Hannah that she was the girl for him, after somehow tracking her and Zoe across the country based on the trail of crimes they committed.
And the ending. Sigh.
This book was written well enough, and that was what kept it from becoming a DNF for me. This was a book I wanted to love, that I wanted to scream about from the rooftops, to remind me that not all packaged books are bad (this one comes from Alloy Entertainment). This book I had such high hopes for, such promise, such desire and unyielding excitement, only to finish the last page, set the book down, and wonder where such a concept could go wrong, where such a great promise from an author that impressed me so much with her debut novel could go so wrong.
Part of me actually likes this book, part of it. Maybe it was just the promise I liked, the idea. Maybe maybe maybe, a book of maybes. I just can’t wrap my head around this one, nor do I truly want to. It’s time for me to move on past the what ifs and what could have beens and just leave this book to be forgotten. In time.