Friday, November 16, 2007
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
I'm a little bit torn about this book. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. It's funny, meaningful, creative, compelling, thoughtful, realistic, and hopeful. It's a teen version of the "miracle books" I've talked about before, like The Wednesday Letters, Letters for Emily, and the Blue Bottle Club.
There is a difference, though...and, despite how wonderful Jeremy Fink is, and how well written, I admit that this difference is bothering me a bit.
The adult miracle books I have mentioned all incorporate God into the meaning of life. To me, God and the meaning of life go hand-in-hand and cannot exist without the other.
There are a couple brief mentions of religion in Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life...but these almost make it worse. I think the story would have been better without addressing religion at all than the way it was done. Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzy, have some time to kill and wander into a church where they are healing people. They leave more confused than ever but don't really talk about what was confusing.
Anyway, the book was wonderful. I just feel like it is missing something. God. It still has a great message (enjoy every moment of life), but, in my opinion, lacks the bigger picture. I certainly don't think all novels need to talk about God. I read more regular fiction than Christian fiction, but I feel that talking about the meaning of life without God is a little bit...empty.
So, you may be wondering why I am reviewing it at all since I don't review books I'm not excited to share...well, I AM excited to share this one. I just want to be upfront about what you are getting into.
Jeremy Fink is almost thirteen when a package arrives for his mother. Encouraged by his best friend, Lizzy, he opens the box to find another box. A beautiful wooden box engraved with the words, "The Meaning of Life, For Jeremy Fink to open on his thirteenth birthday." The ornate box is accompanied by a note that says the four keys (one for each side) have been lost.
As you can imagine, an adventure begins. Jeremy, who is afraid of subways, has a mutant candy collection, and sweats peanut butter, is the ultimate fun character. Wendy Mass has nailed his voice. He takes us on his quest to understand the meaning of life. He wonders what is wrong with himself that he never pondered the meaning of life before.
The journey takes Jeremy and Lizzy to a fortune-teller, a Natural History museum, a comic shop, an abandoned law firm, and even to a makeshift police office.
Despite my one minor reservation about it, I am recommending Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. Check it out. I bet you'll love it.