Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jeremy Fink-Review

I just finished Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Moss as a required read for my YA Lit class. I had some real issues with this book, and I have to say I was very surprised to find it on a syllabus next to Monster and The Chocolate War.
But, like a good librarian, I will focus on the good first: this book had a beginning, a middle, and an end. The cover is kind of charming. And Jeremy's mom is a librarian. That's about it.
My first issue was the reading level for this book. Jeremy and Lizzie are SO immature, I cannot imagine a teen reading this book. Actions such as throwing up after eating oatmeal with peaches in it (because, at almost 13, Jeremy lives on a steady diet of peanut butter and candy), breaking and entering, and taking things because she "has" to are behaviors all teens will totally relate to (sarcastic tone is not coming through in the text, but I assure you it is there).
The ending is preposterous. I spent the entire book enduring the stuff that happens to these characters convinced that through the magic of everyday life, the box would open and some sort of maturity would be achieved. Nope, instead, the entire plan was plotted by a group of adults and Jeremy had the whole thing handed to him. So the reader is denied even the idea that there is some charm in everyday life. Denied serendipity.
Several years ago, there was a similar book called Sophie's World that I also found to be boring. There, a young girl got letters that explained different philosophers' takes on the meaning of life. It was a yawn-fest, but it was aimed at adults who wanted to learn philosophy. Here we have middle school kids who act like kindergartners, trying to expound on the meaning of life in humorless spurts as they search for keys to a magic box that is supposed to contain the meaning of life. This entire process was planned by a father who was killed accidentally at a young age, but who had the wherewithal to set this all up for his son's 13th birthday in case he was not around. Huh?
If they still made after school specials, this was not good enough to be one.
This book has a waiting list at my library. I am dying to know who is reading this and what age they are. I could not recommend this to any age group. The characters are too babyish for teens, and the plot is too convoluted for middle school kids.
The real shame is that Wendy Moss is coming to a local book festival this weekend, and I do not think I want to read any of her other books. I will be skipping that tent.