Saturday, November 28

Gabrielle Williams - The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex

"It was funny how you, yourself, could pretend something to you, yourself, that you, yourself, knew full well was untrue."

A rock chick.

An artist with attitude.

A girl with a past.

A party animal.

Four lives collide when one of the world's most famous paintings is stolen. It's a mystery that has the nation talking, but while Picasso's Weeping Woman might be absent from the walls of the National Gallery, in other parts of Melbourne the controversial painting's presence is being felt by Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny for four very different reasons.

Life, love, art and one giant party intersect in this offbeat comedy about good intentions, unexpected consequences and the irresistible force of true love.

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex begins with a real-life incident about a mob calling itself "Australian Cultural Terrorists" who stole a Picasso- the Weeping Woman- on the 2nd of August, 1986, from the National Gallery of Victoria to draw the attention of the government to increase the funding of struggling artists of Victoria. The painting became the subject of an international manhunt involving Interpol, Scotland Yard and the Australian Federal Police and yet the Australian Cultural Terrorists were never found.

Fear not, this book is hardly about art per se. It's about four characters who are unexpectedly brought together by the painting, for better or for worse. They are:

  • The Guy, as suggested in the title, is a guy named Guy (sorry, couldn't resist that) who is brilliantly flunking out of school and has one, rather useless, talent- hacky sacking. 
  • The Girl, Rafi, has been raised by her mom who's quite off the hinge since her little brother's untimely death.
  • The Artist is Luke, who is the mastermind behind the whole Picasso-stealing plan.
  • The Ex is Penny, who somehow makes everything come together without intending to that fateful night.

What I liked most about the book are undoubtedly the well-crafted characters and plot. This book is narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator as we are shown the trajectory the lives of the main characters takes when the painting crosses their path. I don't want to talk much about the characters or the plot for fear of spoiling the story for you should you read it, but trust me when I say it suffices for you to know that these were some of the best-written YA characters I'd come across so far. Rafi's mother was really heart-breaking and quite unnerving to read about. Rafi herself was probably the character I liked second least- the one I hated being the Bastard-Ex, a really convincing bastard. 

The author should certainly be lauded for touching various subjects such as grief, single-parenthood, academic decline, narcissism and mental illness and still doing justice to them as she weaved a truly interesting story around an art-theft that baffled many its day.  This story looks at the murkier side of  the art profession and brings to light what most artists go through at one time or the other without being too preachy about it. There are also many LOL moments when we are shown intercepts from letters-to-the-editor where people whine about the ugly impenetrability of art. We are also shown the hardships that teens and people in their early 20s go through, and you'd find yourself rooting for a couple of these characters whether you want to or not. 

I loved this book much more than I thought I would and made me remember that first impressions aren't necessarily the best impressions. Overall, this was one clever narration and you'd be doing yourself an unforgivable crime if you don't give this book your time of day. 

The story idea: 4/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 3/5
Enjoy factor: 4/5


  1. This book looks very interesting and seems different than the average mental illness contemporary novel! I added it to my TBR a while back upon your recommendation, and it is something that I really need to look into now! Great review, Ruzaika!

    1. I do hope you end up reading it soon, Emily :) It was definitely not one of the typical mental illness contemporaries we come across daily!
      Thank you :))

  2. The last paragraph was a great way of making people read the book hahaha but I'm not sure if this is for me. YA contemporary and I don't get along very well but I can appreciate what the author did based on your review, so thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Damn, I did so hope I'd be able to convince you to read this with that last paragraph :P Anyways, glad you could see what I liked about this book :))

  3. Thanks for a great review - always nice to find gems like this when I'm secretly googling myself ;)

    1. Oh my god, thank YOU for dropping by! Looking forward to more awesome books from you in the future- loved this one, as you no doubt gathered from this review.
      And TBH, I google myself too, and I'm not even the author here :D


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