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Month in review

Reviews
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris
Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later) by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard
Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart
Bigmama's by Donald Crews
Cat With a Clue by Laurie Cass
Clarice Bean, Guess Who's Babysitting? by Lauren Child
Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
Cy Whittaker's Place by Joseph C. Lincoln
Empty Places by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Honey by Sarah Weeks
It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
The Last Monster by Ginger Garrett
Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
Pretty in Ink by Karen E. Olson
Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Sea Change by Frank Viva
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
Slacker by Gordon Korman
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
This is San Francisco by Miroslav Sasek
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson

Miscellaneous
October Reading Summary

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life: 10/15/16

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Wendy Mass's books always end up deeper than they first seem. Even the most straightforward sounding plots end up having numerous layers. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is no exception. The titular character is on a quest to learn more about his father but he's stuck doing community service at the same time and he can feel the clock ticking down to this birthday — the time he's supposed to learn what advice his father had left for him.

Jeremy is a boy of habits. He likes to collect mutant candy (and I can't help wonder if they're from Logan's factory). It's not that Logan's parents are sloppy with their candy making operation, it's just that oddballs do slip through.

Jeremy also doesn't like to leave his neighborhood. He may live in a big city (New York) with access to loads of mass transit, but he prefers to stick to the familiar places. All told, Jeremy reminds me of Joe Sylvester from Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan's Save Me a Seat.

Jeremy, though, does have a friend who sticks with him through thick and thin. She also, knows how to help him push personal boundaries and try new things. That's especially true after a beautiful wooden box is delivered to Jeremy with a note saying that all the of his father's advice is locked inside with an apology that the keys have been lost.

That set up is the start of a caper — namely the misadventures to unlock the box. Lizzy's lateral thinking is great for tracking down clues for the keys. But it also lands them both in trouble — and with mandatory community service.

Wendy Mass writes realistic fiction. Her worlds sometimes skin along edge of the plausible but when a book is set in New York with a man who has ties to Great Depression and doesn't seem to age even though his former clients obviously have, it's hard not to jump to supernatural conclusions. I should point out I was also finishing up James Ponti's Dead City trilogy at the time — so zombies in New York were at the front of my imagination.

But this book is a caper — a straight up caper — that uses the treasure hunt for the keys to reflect on life, death, and superstitions. Through their community service, Jeremey learns he's not the only one in this massive city who feels most comfortable in his own familiar blocks and with his own routines. He also learns that the city and by extension life itself is up to the beholder — every person has their own experience and their own philosophy.

It's a quietly compelling book.

Four stars

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