Thursday, January 27, 2011

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni

Book three on my quest to read the Alex awards.

This one was much more of a reach for me than the previous books, if only because the characters were so out there I found it hard to connect with them at first. It is basically a story of how two marginalized boys find punk rock and how it changes them forever.

Sebastian lives in a geodesic dome on the outskirts of town with his grandmother who probably at one point meant well, but has really (and this is me editorializing) lost it somewhere along the line. She is obsessed (obsessed!) with Buckminster Fuller and only teaches Sebastian things that go along with Buckminster's view of life - but not the naughty bits, she censors those out with black ink. There are some very funny things that come out of this, but I couldn't help but feel a bit horrified that Sebastian has pretty much spent his entire life without interacting with anyone else and certainly no one his own age.

Enter Jared, a foul-mouthed, skinny, heart-transplant recipient who inadvertantly, and much to his chagrin, become's Sebastian's first friend. Since Jared is the first teenager Sebastian has ever met, he becomes his friend pretty much by default. Sebastian sort of won't leave him alone. The thing is though that Jared is almost as isolated as Sebastian. After his heart transplant he's been alone in his bedroom, wallowing in punk music and hiding from the world. I really enjoyed Jared and how the rudest possible things poured out of his mouth, but at times it got to the point where he became a charicature. Luckily the author was witty enough to carry the storyline.
Here are a couple samples:
When Sebastian is attempting to learn bass and it is not going well:

I went to bed each night, trying not to think about how deficient I was at Punk Rocking. It was all I could do not to weep.

And the conclusion, where the boys show up to a church talent show and rock out was one of the best things I've read in a long time:

She peeked out the slit in the curtains.
"Is that you guys?" she said. "Are you...The Rash?"
"Yeah," said Jared. "That's our band name."
She looked at the crowd again and then back to us. "Well, you better go out and play, then," she said. "Or these assholes are going to tear down our church."

I think of all the Alex books I've read so far, this one may have the most limited readership, which I certainly don't mean as a criticism. I say that only because I feel like the reader has to have had an interest in punk at some point in order to get a lot of the humor. But if they get it they'll love it. I fully intend to buy this one for my brother.

Book Source = Library Copy

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