The House of Tomorrow, by Peter Bognanni

“This is a point. It has no dimensions. It has no length, breadth, depth at all.”
Jared listened without complaint.
“I don’t know about you,” I said, “But I feel very similar to a point lately.”
“Fuckin’ A,” he said.

That’s a quote from about three-quarters of the way through this book, and I’d say it’s a pretty apt summary of the whole thing. The House of Tomorrow has a lot going on in it — you’ve got a kid living in a geodesic dome with a grandmother obsessed with R. Buckminster Fuller, a kid living with a secondhand heart trying to make a punk rock band as good as the Ramones or the Misfits while his mother hopes that giving her life to the church will help her deal with everything, and you’ve got what happens when these two kids meet, which is as odd and comical as you’d expect. But what the book is about, as far as I can tell, is how hard it is to define yourself when everyone around you is trying to make that definition for you. Which is what we humans deal with pretty much every second of every day, but Sebastian and Jared deal with it in a much more entertaining fashion.

An interesting thing about this book is that it reads like YA — teen protagonists, coming of age, overprotective parents, etc. etc. But I definitely got this book from the adult section, which I think is spectacular because there are so many books that get relegated to the YA section that need to be read by pretty much everyone, and this would be one of them. I would really like to know how Bognanni managed to get this marketed to adults.

I think what I really loved about this book was the writing of Sebastian, the kid from the geodesic dome. I have read so many books and seen so many movies where a similar character is presented as completely alien and mockable, but Sebastian was so real — sure, he has a weird way of talking, but the thoughts in his brain aren’t any different from Jared’s, and you can see that.

At times I felt that the plot was getting a little ridiculous — Jared decides that the band is going to play at the church youth group talent show, and somehow a full-scale viral marketing campaign gets hatched, including convincing a record store clerk that the band is the new cool indie thing that he should totally have heard of were he not living under a rock, which seemed a bit unrealistic to me. But then I remembered that I was totally okay with Sebastian living in a geodesic dome and I thought maybe I should cut the band a break. If you’re prepared to suspend your disbelief just a little bit, I think you’ll better appreciate the fun of the novel.

Rating: 8/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2010, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
The Book Lady’s Blog
Devourer of Books

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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