I just recently finished a book called Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. According to the book jacket, Ahern is the author of P.S. I Love You & Love, Rosie, and they were both made into films. This is Ahern’s first young adult novel. The book’s cover is what garnered my attention. It’s very simple, but the big F and a circle around it is hard to miss.
The novel’s protagonist is Celestine North, and she’s the quintessential perfect teenage girl. She gets good grades, has good looks, is polite and never gets in trouble. She also has the perfect relationship with her boyfriend, Art. Celestine lives in a society where everyone is supposed to be perfect. If you do something morally or ethically wrong, then you are deemed Flawed. They have to go to trial, which is run by an organization called the Guild, lead by Art’s father, Judge Crevan. After you’re deemed Flawed, you get branded. There are 5 places on your body where you can be branded: your temple, the palm of your hand, your foot, your chest and your tongue.
Things are going great in Celestine’s life until their neighbor and Celestine’s piano teacher, Angelina Tinder, is accused of being Flawed and taken into custody. Angelina is later deemed Flawed. Celestine starts to question the system because she’s known Angelina practically her whole life and never saw a Flawed quality in her.
One day Celestine, Art and Celestine’s sister, Juniper, are on the bus on their way home from school. To give some background, on the bus there’s a special section of seats on the front of the bus for the Flawed and all of the other seats are for everyone else. This bus ride will change Celestine’s life forever. Anyway, two ladies who aren’t Flawed are sitting in the Flawed seats having a conversation, one of whom has a broken leg. A Flawed elderly man gets on the bus and he can’t sit down because of the ladies sitting in the Flawed seats. Suddenly, the man starts to have a coughing fit. Celestine sees what’s going on and has to decide whether she is going to help the man or not because if she helps him that’s considered aiding a Flawed and that’s against the law.
So, Celestine decides to ask the ladies to move so the old man can sit down. They refuse and act like the old man doesn’t even exist. Celestine helps the man into a seat and then is taken into custody. Judge Crevan wants Celestine to lie and say that she didn’t help the old man. If she does this, she would only serve two years in prison. Otherwise she will be deemed Flawed.
Initially, she does lie, but in the end she tells the truth, much to the anger of Judge Crevan. He makes her get 5 brands, the most ever. Crevan is so angry that he ends up secretly putting a 6th brand on Celestine’s spine. If anyone finds out that he did this, Crevan would be ruined. He’s so desperate to maintain his power that he’s prepared to do anything to keep it a secret.
The experience drastically changes Celestine. Now on the other side of society, people look at her differently. Juniper is afraid that Celestine is angry with her because she doesn’t speak up for her. Celestine’s relationship with Art is pretty much over because Judge Crevan doesn’t want her anywhere near his son. She is ostracized at school because she’s the only Flawed student, and some teachers even refuse to teach her.
Here’s an interview with Cecila Ahern talking about what her inspiration was to write Flawed.
There were some quotes in the novel that struck me. One was when Celestine said:
-have found that it is their right to express their opinion of me freely, as though it can’t hurt or alter me. It’s the branding that does that. And I know it. It dehumanizes me in a way to others. I’m to be stared at and talked about as if I’m not here.
To feel invisible or inhuman and to have people treat you with no respect just because you made one mistake has got to hurt. Personally, I wouldn’t consider what Celestine did a mistake. She was trying to help an elderly man who was in need.
Another quote that struck me was:
Good. You remember that. It’s easy to forget sometimes. Though criminals get better treatment than us. As soon as they serve their time, they’re out. We’re like this forever.
This quote was interesting because in our society criminals are reminded of what they did every day and find it hard to go back to their lives before they went to prison. Meanwhile, in this novel criminals are treated better than the Flawed, and that’s crazy to think about.
The last interesting quote was:
Everything has been given a soul in advertising. Yet the soul is being taken from people. Humanizing objects, dehumanizing people.
Sadly, I’m sure that we can think of plenty of characters from commercials that are given human qualities. Meanwhile, there are actual humans who aren’t treated with any respect because of who they love, what they believe in, the color of their skin, etc.
This book was very interesting to me, and along Celestine’s journey she goes through a lot and finds it hard to trust anybody except for her parents. The ending leaves it open for a sequel which commonly happens with young adult novels these days. Flawed is available in our catalog. Does Celestine’s world sound similar to ours? What do you think of the flawed society? Let us know in the comments below!