Friday, July 1, 2011

The House of Tomorrow - Peter Bognanni (Audio)

I guess it has been over a year since this book first came out, and all of us blog-reading people were inundated with reviews for "The House of Tomorrow".  And for some reason, it just never stuck its hand up and grabbed me by the hair and demanded to be read.  But I should have known better.  After all, it is an Amy Einhorn imprint, and for all of you who don't know, Amy Einhorn imprints are as close to a "sure thing" as you're going to get in the reading world.

But then someone (was it you Literate Housewife?) inspired me to get it on audio.  So I did, and I fell in love with this book.  And I'm pretty sure that no matter what I say, I'm going to come up short on this one, so I'll just preface my ramblings with a mandate...just read it.

Synopsis:  Sebastian Prendergast lives in the Iowa countryside with his Napa in an experimental geodesic dome.  Nana is a new age kind of gal, and is an apostle of R. Buckminster Fuller, a new age kind of guy who was an inventor, designer and futurist.  Nana keeps Sebastian sequestered, home-schooling him and keeping him from the evils of society.  She has high hopes for him one day, to save humanity or some such thing.

But when Nana has a stroke, and is temporarily incapacitated, Sebastian is befriended by Jared Whitcomb, his mother Janice and his hot sister Meredith.  Jared is unlike anything Sebastian has every seen before.  He smokes, he cusses, he loves punk rock, he has an angry chip on his shoulder, and has recently had a heart transplant.  The boys form a unique friendship, though, a bond born of feeling like outsiders trying to belong somewhere.  They decide to start a band and compete at the local church talent show.  Meanwhile, Sebastian has to make sense of a world he never knew existed, and begins to question the wisdom of his eccentric grandmother. 

Part coming-of-age novel, part ode to friendship, part ode to punk rock, and part comedy, this is one story you won't soon forget.

My thoughts: It is hard to put my finger on one specific reason why this book touched my heart.  It just has "that something special", a trait I'm beginning to assume is part of the bargain with Amy Einhorn.  The writing is approachable and it flows easily.  It is familiar.  Nana's obsession over a man who really existed, and was quite the strange bird, is fascinating. 

But I think it is the characters that got me.  Sebastian is an innocent.  He doesn't know anything about music, or guitars, or smoking, or drinking.  He doesn't understand slang.  He is dear.  His sudden friendship with Jared was like a cataclysmic explosion.  Jared, in total opposition, is a big pain in the ass.  He is foul and belligerent and abusive.  It becomes obvious quickly, though, that he is a scared little boy who needs his missing father, and needs someone to treat him like a normal kid, not one who just got a new heart.  The friendship touched me to the core. 

The music is pretty cool too.  I've never been a big fan of punk rock (although my husband is), but just as I felt in "Revolution", or with "A Visit From the Goon Squad", music was the little added touch that made this story a sum greater than its parts. 

A word about the audio production:  The narrator of this audio, Lloyd James, was a new voice for me.  It appears he mostly narrates non-fiction, which is fine, but my advice to him would be to come on over to the fiction side a little more often.  He was wonderful.  He GOT this book, he got the essence of the teenage boy (both innocent and jaded ones), he got the essence of the tormented mother and the eccentric old lady.  Mr. James was the cherry on top of this incredible listening experience.

5 out of 5 stars         
          

14 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

I don't remember hearing about this one, but the fact you say bloggers were inundated makes me wonder if I switched off to it because it was everywhere. This dooesn't sound like my kind of book, but I can't resist audio books that you love so I'll pencil it onto the end of my list :-)

rhapsodyinbooks said...

It sounds like I should break my rule of only nonfiction for audio and try this one if read by Lloyd James. (the rule is because I need to concentrate just a bit - heh - while driving, and with nonfiction I can safely zone out from the book from time to time!)

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

You're making me think I may need to revisit this in audio, I absolutely adored it in print.

Zibilee said...

I must have been living under a rock, because I have never heard of this book before! A lot of what you said about it reminds me of A Visit From the Goon Squad, which I finished a couple of weekends ago. I think this is a book that I need to try, not only because I love the Amy Einhorn books, but because this books sounds like it's pretty much got it all. This one goes to the top of the wish list for future purchase. Fantastic review!

Ti said...

Well, you know how I loved it. For me, the book had that same tone that I found in Garp. It was a little Gilbert Grape-like too. That quirky, "we are all a bunch of misfits but let's all save each other" thing going on.

Pam said...

Sounds like a really great listen!

April (BooksandWine) said...

I read this in print and loved it!

And YES I totally agree with you about the Amy Einhorn bargain, almost every book that I've read from that imprint has touched my heart in some way as well.

The audio sounds fantastic! Glad it works on audio as well.

Amy said...

I don't remember hearing about or reading anything about this book. I'm glad you reviewed it! It sounds like a unique story and I love the inclusion of music even though punk isn't my favorite!

Thanks for a great review!

Julie P. said...

I don't think I even have a copy of this one -- poo! 5 out of 5 stars from you makes it a must-read.

Literate Housewife said...

I hope it was me who got you to listen to it. I'm going to have to do the same. I <3 this book more than I can say. Peter Bognanni just gets it. Sigh.

heidenkind said...

Literate Housewife also tweeted her love of Peter Bognanni repeatedly--THAT I remember. :)

Marie said...

:-) this sounds like a nice read :-)

Christine said...

I read this book a few months ago and really, really enjoyed it. The characters are what make it.

Matt said...

I heard about this one from you, Jennifer (Lit Housewife) and Tina R. It seems all three of you highly endorse this one and I've been keeping an eye on this during travel---but to no avail. I need to get this book soon so I can join in the chime of book bloggers. (You listen to this one...that also tells me something....)