Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Wendy Mass, Author . Little, Brown $15.99 (289p) ISBN 978-0-316-05829-2

What is the meaning of life? Mass (A Mango-Shaped Space ) introduces a winning narrator who attempts to answer this question and ends up accomplishing much more. Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzy, are on a quest to discover Jeremy's purpose on earth before his 13th birthday. Set in New York City, the adventure begins when a mysterious box arrives. The package, assembled by his father before he died in a car accident five years prior (the man had a premonition of his early death), contains a sealed antique box inscribed with the message, "The Meaning of Life: For Jeremy Fink to Open on His 13th Birthday." The box can only be opened with a set of four keys, which have gone missing. Much of the novel's charm derives from Jeremy and Lizzy's unique friendship. Their personalities balance each other brilliantly—Lizzy the risktaker challenges Jeremy, who resists change. With less than a month to find the keys, the two meet a number of larger-than-life characters with their own life-lesson nuggets to bestow—most memorable among them the venerable pawnbroker, Mr. Oswald, for whom they make some surprising deliveries ("The harder something is to acquire, the more satisfying it is when you finally find it," says he). Jeremy and Lizzy find what they are looking for and more, but not where or in the way they expected. This exquisitely executed plot twist, combined with an ending that requires a few tissues, makes this soulful novel one not to miss. Ages 9-12. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 12/11/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Glued - 289 pages - 978-1-4178-1398-8
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-0-316-05849-0
Ebook - 978-0-316-18036-8
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-0-316-20900-7
Open Ebook - 157 pages - 978-0-316-18041-2
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