Review: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

Like any sensible 22-year-old, I get a lot of life advice from Buzzfeed.

“73 Tiny Tattoos that Girls Will Love”…? I’m all over that shit.

“What Kind of Donut Are You?” I don’t know but now I need to find out!!!

So when I saw their “X Number of Books You HAVE to Read This Summer” list (I’m paraphrasing here), I wasn’t all that surprised to find The Life and Death of Sophie Stark on it. I mean, really, I’ve seen this book everywhere lately. On the featured shelf at Barnes & Noble (or Chapters for you Canadian readers…), on Goodreads, and now on The Almighty Internet God that is Buzzfeed. So I grabbed my Kindle, pushed the “Buy” button, and basically dove right in.

I have to say, Buzzfeed came through for me on this one.

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I don’t know what I was expecting, but Sophie Stark is not it. Maybe the dramatic title led me to believe it would be more of an action novel, but in reality–and not to my disappointment–it’s actually a quiet but frenetic story about its title character and the lives she leaves an indelible mark on, whether that mark was a negative or positive.

And that’s what I loved most about this book: its frankness. The “chapters” (more like sections, really) are narrated by a different person every time, but never Sophie herself, and a lot of them aren’t pretty. They are unfiltered, gritty, and unforgiving accounts of Sophie Stark as she was: a filmmaker, a lover, a selfish but creative girl who destroyed more relationships than she maintained. These relationships are often pretty stressful to read about in all honesty, but that’s what made the book so good. The writing is so well done that your emotions sync with the characters in the story: when Sophie treats them like shit, you feel devastated, too. When Sophie starts the final plunge of her downward spiral, your stomach is tight with anxiety and uncertainty like I imagine hers is.

For the most part, it’s a dark kind of novel that leaves you feeling pretty down, but I didn’t mind. The story was good enough to keep me going through that grey feeling of despair that Sophie Stark leaves you with. And even though it features two tactics I usually hate–chapters that change points of view and a spoiler right from the beginning that the main character dies at the end–I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a captivating but quick, beach read type of book. The characters are tangible and the perfect mix of likable/not to make this book feel like an award winning documentary–a testament in itself to Sophie: the film director, the tortured artist, and the multifaceted, flawed character you will love to hate and love to love.

Rosie & Bean rating: 4 out of 5 donuts.
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