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Jeremy Fink and the meaning of life

by Mass


Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
     by Mass, Wendy

Publishers Weekly :

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Starred Review. 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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
     by Mass, Wendy

School Library Journal :

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Gr 5-7–An elaborately locked wooden box requiring four separate but missing keys holds the treasure in this modern-day quest. Jeremy's father lived his life preparing for an early death, as foretold by a fortune-teller. He did, in fact, die when Jeremy was eight, but a package from him containing the locked box arrives one month before Jeremy's 13th birthday, the day on which the box is to be opened. With his friend Lizzy, Jeremy searches for the keys while contemplating the words engraved on the box, The Meaning of Life: For Jeremy Fink. 13th Birthday. The search for the keys takes the friends around and about New York City, where they meet a large and increasingly convenient range of supporting characters, from members of a spiritualist congregation to a prominent astronomer, all of whom point them toward their own takes on the meaning of life. Mystery and adventure fans will be pulled in by the locked box, and, as a bonus, will get to know quirky, scientific Jeremy and impulsive Lizzy. Some readers might become impatient as the metaphysical quest lengthens, but those who stick with the story will find a warm picture of parental love and wisdom and of a boy growing into his own understanding and acceptance of life.–Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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BookList :

From BookList, December 15, 2006, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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The summer he turns 13, Jeremy receives a mysterious box with the engraved words “the meaning of life: for Jeremy Fink on his thirteenth birthday.” The box was left by his father, who has been dead for five years. It has four locks, but Jeremy finds no keys to open them. As Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzy, embark on a quest to find the keys, they travel across Manhattan from flea markets to fancy office buildings and museums, searching, as it turns out, not only for keys but also insights into science, religion, art, friendship, and family. The overlong plot lurches from one contrivance to another, and the end is a total setup, but readers will be hooked by the kids' fast, funny urban adventure, as well as by the quest and the “existential crisis.” The many open-ended questions make this fun for group discussion: “Why are we here? Is that even the correct question?”
HazelRochman.

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