I have a TON of reviews written and a ton that need to be written, but I finished this book this morning and loved it so much that I just NEEDED to post about it. Given that it's the release day, I thought featuring it today seemed appropriate. The other waiting reviews will just have to wait.
Title: the House of Tomorrow
Author: Peter Bognanni
Who Should Read It? There is quite a bit of negative langauge and teen smoking, so I'd say it's for older teens and adults. In that group, though, EVERYONE should read it!
What I Have to Say: Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances, said "I adore this book." That's my "just finished this book" reaction as well. I absolutely ADORED it.
It's so gritty and heartfelt and REAL that I couldn't help but feel attached from sentence one. Sebastian, a 16 year old who grew up in a geodesic dome with a grandmother obsessed with Buckminster Fuller, and Jared, a 16 year old whose family is screwed up and who just recently underwent a heart transplant, are not your average teen boys. But they could have been. Their flaws are so understandable, their anger and frustration so real, that despite their odd circumstances, they are, in the end, just two completely identifiable teen boys, and the bond that they form is believable and touching in a way rarely seen in books nowadays.
Bognanni's way of dealing with Jared's problems through the music he listens to and creates was masterful. Music allows Sebastian and Jared to discover themselves and reveal themselves to each other in a way that most teenage boys would be unable to do. They are the music, and the music is them, and if you've ever had any kind of relationship with music, you need to read this book. There is no better song to explain how Jared and Sebastian felt than "Teenagers from Mars" by the Misfits, and the way he wove this in and allowed it, along with other punk rock music, to create a bond between Jared and Sebastian, was absolutely genius.
Something else genius: the way he used punk rock to set a mood for the book without letting the mood of the book be the punk rock. Let me try to explain that better. I knew, going into the book, that I would be reading about some of my favorite punk. So I made a playlist in iTunes with things like the Misfits, Minor Threat, the Ramones, the Dead Kennedys, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Business, etc. . ., and I set it to go when I started the book. At first, it was okay. But as I read more and more, it wasn't angry, fast music that I wanted to be listening to. While the music perfectly described the fears of these two teenage boys and allowed them to express themselves without acting like retarded girls (I'm sure that's something Jared would say), it was all just a cover up for their deeper problems. The story of their frienship was so sweet and sad that, while gritty, angry music worked for them, it didn't work for me while reading.
Reading this book, I felt like I could tell that Peter Bognanni put his heart and soul into it. He raises interesting questions and gives you just enough of the answers. He breathes so much life into his two unique, quirky characters that I can't help but wonder if one of them is his son. One of them was my brother, even if he didn't mean for it to be, and my guess is at least one of the boys is someone in your life as well. His writing is lyrical and beautiful and, I say it again, heartfelt.
One more thing I'd like to say as an afterthought - referring to Napoleon as the first punk rocker: totally RAD! I absolutely love it!
I think it would be hard to read this book and not love it, or at least feel it. Despite the teen smoking and the affluence of naughty language, it comes HIGHLY recommended by Brizmus Blogs Books (for older teens and adults, of course). Read it, and you'll see what I mean.
Summary: Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who homeschooled him in the teachings of futurist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when his grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and make his own way in town.
Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart-transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing, including grape soda, girls, and Sid Vicious. They form a punk band called The Rash, and it's clear that the upcoming Methodist Church talent show has never seen the likes of them. Wholly original, The House of Tomorrow is the story of a young man's self-discovery, a dying woman's last wish, and a band of misfits trying desperately to be heard.
Cover Story: THis book has so much heart that I think a heart on the cover is absolutely appropriate. And the font gives it a sort of punk rock feel, which is again appropriate. I love it!
Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review.