Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
Published: 2-1-2008 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Get the book: Amazon
In one month Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen. But does he have what it takes to be a teenager? He collects mutant candy, he won’t venture more than four blocks from his apartment if he can help it, and he definitely doesn’t like surprises. On the other hand, his best friend, Lizzy, isn’t afraid of anything, even if that might get her into trouble now and then.
Jeremy’s summer takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious wooden box arrives in the mail. According to the writing on the box, it holds the meaning of life! Jeremy is supposed to open it on his thirteenth birthday. The problem is, the keys are missing, and the box is made so that only the keys will open it without destroying what’s inside. Jeremy and Lizzy set off to find the keys, but when one of their efforts goes very wrong, Jeremy starts to lose hope that he’ll ever be able to open the box. But he soon discovers that when you’re meeting people named Oswald Oswald and using a private limo to deliver unusual objects to strangers all over the city, there might be other ways of finding out the meaning of life.
Design – Gail Doobinin Photo – Gary S. Chapman Rating: 3/5
The keys are interesting (although I really love how old keys look) and the different heights they’re hanging at really lead your eye to the title and the tagline. The keys are totally appropriate for the story as well.
This is a really good middle grade read, filled with interesting stories and characters. I loved reading about Jeremy and Lizzy’s friendship and the strange things they got themselves into.
- Jeremy – Jeremy is a strange kid, but all 12-13 year olds are a bit strange in their own way. What I like about Jeremy is that he fully owns who he is and what he likes – he’s not afraid of being looked down on or made fun of for the things he likes. He collects mutant candy, eats way too much normal candy, does research during the Hour of Jeremy, and hates the subway.
- Lizzy + Jeremy – Their friendship is excellent, with no romantic anything at all, which was great. The only awkwardness comes from Jeremy’s disgust at Lizzy’s attempts to seem more grown up, which felt true to their age. They balance each other out and work through the puzzle of the box together.
- community service – Lizzy and Jeremy’s community service assignment is great. From the limousine rides to the odd objects they learn the histories of, it was a very interesting way for Jeremy and Lizzy to discover what other people consider to be the meaning of life.
- ending – I don’t want to give it away, but I found the ending to be a bit disappointing. In my opinion it took away some of the magic of the journey.
- It’s a good thing I make very few decisions in my life. What if I decided one day to eat three Butterfingers instead of two, and it led to war with Canada? – Jeremy pg. 130
- “It’s not all fun and games. Today in the limo they were out of Coke. I had to have Pepsi.” “But you like Pepsi better anyway.” “True, but I didn’t have a choice.” – Jeremy + his mom pg. 194