Sharp, witty darkly humourous, this book is a fantastic read I read it in a day found the characters easy to relate to The imagery is extremely realistic without being overpowering is exceptionally delicate. This was such a unique story, probably because the main character used imaginary friends and voices and retreated into her imagination for the bulk of her life because she was terribly abused both sexually and emotionally I couldn't quite believe it was a YA book but no matter the audience it was a story that was both tragic and hopeful Thelma is the protagonist and narrator and we totally get in her head as to how she sees things, her family and the things that happen to her It's not even like she understands what is normal or not, since the author does an amazing job of painting a picture of what someone living this life might be like I found it challenging to decipher what was real or not but once I got a grasp on things I couldn't put the book down It's a quick read I love Canadian writing. Funny I've had a couple of books that are taking me ages to read But I found a copy of Camilla Gibb's Mouthing the Words in a crazy op shop on Redfern Street (for one dollar), was intrigued and finished it in two days Published in 2002, at a time when I was paying attention to new voices in Canadian fiction, I remember hearing good things about the book so have been meaning to read it now for over a decade I enjoyed it The best thing about the book is Thelma, spiky and funny and traumatised, the main character, and I did enjoy following her journey from childhood to adulthood I liked the sense of movement, growth and possibility while not understating what she'd been through and the affects of her childhood sexual abuse It is a relatively slim book, and I found the characterizations of the minor characters a bit undeveloped I wanted for them to be a bitrounded or interesting; yet, perhaps it was a reflection of how the narrator related to the world too: at a distance I was worried that some of the tropes of childhood sexual abuse were too familiar: anorexia, multiple personalities, a character who is abrasive as defence I also nearly shouted at the page that with so much evidence of the abuse that no one except the narrator would mouth the words, and deal directly with what happened to her It's in the backdrop that the abusive father is sent away, is possibly jailed, is kept away from the daughter but keeps coming back That other people know what happened but can't seem to say anything or provide support But the character of Thelma kept on becomingoriginal and interesting throughout the book: I was engaged with the way she started to form friendships and look into her sexuality and step outwards into the world Meanwhile, the terrible effects of the abuse and society and her family's inability to provide support or address the issue seem like they could be terribly true and I have the feeling this book will be staying with me for a while. It took me a chapter or two to fully entangle myself in this book ( because of my personal head space than anything else, I think) but once I was in, I was in Simultaneously tender and brutal, Mouthing the Words is perhaps one of the most resonant survivor journeys I have ever seen represented in the written form.I particularly appreciated the fragmented and darkly chaotic passages describing Thelma's experiences with her father and with her subsequent illness as a young woman The style of writing felt very true in terms of reality; how disorganized and painful and surreal trauma is The written word tends to inherently categorize experience, because language itself is a construct, and this can make it difficult to write about destructive, anomalous life events But Camilla Gibb played around this artfully and effectively.Much respect for this work of literature Highly recommended, though with a definite trigger warning, so do a little research before reading if you are concerned about this. By turns harrowing and hilarious, this adroitly narrated winner of the Toronto Book Award recreates the world in the imagination of Thelma It's a world in which she can escape some of her painful childhood realities, like those games her father likes to make her play, where he's the boss and she the naughty secretary And her mother so fiercely favors her younger brother, the cherubic Willy, that Thelma finds herself perpetually in emotional exile No wonder Thelma asks practically every adult she meets to adopt her Along Thelma's bumpy way from a rural English village to Canada to a law degree at Oxford, she meets many potential parents and even makes some friends, but it is with the companions of her fertile imagination—with the scaredybaby Janawee, moody and timid Ginniger, and big, strong, stoic Heroin—that Thelma finds comfort With them, too, she loses an already tenuous connection to reality, though ultimately Thelma's spirit and humor prove to be as indomitable as her wit Moving and comic at once Hallucinatory, hilarious, and haunting—Boston Globe Prickly, unsentimentala portrait of terrible comic humanity—New York Times Book Review Mesmerizing Lush, visceral proserings with an authority rarely found in first novels—Washington Post Book World A novel of astonishing powerAn instantaneous classic—Balti Sun Elegantsings with an almost Victorian delicacy and sophistication—San Francisco Chronicle This book was excellent It was original, intriguing and interesting, dealing with several difficult subjects without becoming too 'heavy' or feeling too tragic This book isn't your average 'tragic life story' it'sIt's easy to get lost inside Thelma's rather complex mind, explore her mental state and the thoughts that this brings her It's not boring and although you may look back and think some of the things in the book are almost unbelievable, it feels completely realistic The protagonist sounded like Sylvia Plath and Austen Burroughs combined Hard hitting and real but with the hint of dark humour The book managed to hold thought, emotion and humour despite all of the subjects in the book that included homosexuality, suicide, abuse and mental illness Interestingly and well written with a few quotes/messages that I loved A book that I'd definitely recommend. One of the few books that made me feel it in my gut Haven't read it in a long while and really want to go back to it one day. I don’t find this book hilarious in anyway, but oh how fantastic it is, dark and absolutely mad but in a way where you can feel it I love it I wanna be an icicle! Quick review: This book is certainly harrowing, but rarely hilarious It mentioned hilarity in both the summary here on Goodreads, and on the cover of the book itself I disagree It is clever, sharp, quick, but the content is as gloomy as you'll find.This book, what to say about this book! I've only refrained from giving it a 5 star rating as I found it so miserable, so #triggering in it's biting portrayal of sexual abuse, anorexia, and borderline personality disorder, that it made me feel completely gloomy I wanted to take Thelma and wrap her in my arms Not that she would have wanted that not that that would have helped.This is one of those rare books that you finish and wonder how someone could write something so fluid, so utterly convincing, so imaginative yet realistic I don't know how Gibb evaded awards and recognition for this, but I wish it had gainedtraction It's a real gem.I felt tired after reading this and not because I read it in a day or two Just because I felt like I lived through Thelma's life; an exhausting life that just kept pushing on and on, relentless despite her attempts to slow, or stop This story is small, but doesn't feel so it feels as though it encompasses the whole world inside these pages We are pulled through the years, tugged along roughly by the arm, as Thelma hustles through a pained, imaginative childhood, youngadult years of institutions, unhappy high school, law school, and finally, postgraduate work at Oxford It is only because we believe in Thelma's inherent goodness, intelligence, and resilience that we have any hope left at the conclusion of the book I really liked this book I liked it's stark, dark language, it's unwillingness to tiptoe around and fluff The character work was so strong I feel like I personally KNOW Ginniger, and Molly, and Patrick I love it when books make you feel like that.I give this a very tentative 4/5 stars mainly because you can't do half points, which is dumb Realistically it's a 4.5. Camilla Gibb is a favourite author of mine, whose books (such as Sweetness in the Belly) have been powerful and beautifully written This novel, Mouthing the Words, Gibbs's first published book, shows much of the promise that these later works achieve Thelma is a striking and strong female character, and her life is fraught with sexual abuse and mental instability Her struggles to move through these experiences and find a secure harbour kept me engaged as a reader They also conveyed convincingly the difficulties that such a life can force someone to endure That Thelma manages to do so, building a set of ties that support her, make this ultimately a hopeful book.At the same time, as various reviewers have noted, this is very much a debut novel In her later books, Camilla Gibb shows skill in plot development and character analysis But this book has not achieved that maturity The plot is often confusing and Thelma's character is sometimes difficult to understand (though that is in many ways what this book is about.) Patrick, her past lover, is also underdeveloped as a character, given what seems to have been his importance in Thelma's life Nevertheless, my overall assessment of this novel is positive But for those who read it, don't stop there with Camilla Gibb! Go on to read the finer books which she has continued to write.