Thursday, September 5, 2013

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet - OPTIONAL

Peet, Mal Life: An Exploded Diagram, 416 pgs.  Candlewick Press, 2011. $14.28 Language: PG-13 (20+ swears, 3 ‘f’); Mature Content – PG13; Violence: PG;

 What makes a life?  Clem Ackroyd tells his story from World War II to 9/11.  Clem comes from a working-class family in England.  His mom, Ruth, met George Ackroyd during World War II and she became pregnant with Clem.  George returns from the war where he faced unimaginable things.  They move in with Ruth’s mom, Win, and there the story really begins.  Clem does well in school and is able to advance to a school where he learns art and new experiences.  Win is a sad and lonely woman who finds solace in religion. There is a great part where Win joins with a cult leader who predicts the end of the world.  George finds work with a wealthy landowner.  Clem falls for a girl named Frankie who is the daughter of the landowner.  They sneak around in clandestine meetings where they discover love and each other.  The whole story is set against the backdrop of major world events during the time frame of the book.  

A lot of the book takes place in the 1960’s during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The writing was wonderful and the story was enjoyable for me as it provided a glimpse at my own experiences with these historical events.
 The story is a great story.  I loved reading it.  It felt much older than a young adult novel.  There is considerable talk about sex and the young couple learning about their emotions, love, and physical attractiveness to each other.  Because of the sexual situations I think it would be only appropriate in a high school.  It would be for more mature readers. 

HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Warren Child, Library Media Specialist Cyprus HS

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