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Friday, March 25, 2011

House of Tomorrow

House of Tomorrow
Peter Bognanni
Putnam, 2010

Sebastian Prendergast is sixteen and has lived with his grandmother in a geodesic dome ever since his parents were killed in a car accident when he was five years old. Sebastian is homeschooled by his grandmother, mostly using the philosophy of futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. This means that Sebastian has great gaps in his education, since he has not been exposed to television and his computer use is severely limited to searching for articles related geodesic dome living. He and his grandmother have minimal needs because the dome is mostly self sufficient; any income is generated through periodic tours provided to tourists passing through town.

Sebastian doesn’t miss what he doesn’t know until his grandmother has a stroke, just as they are preparing to offer a tour to a snotty chain-smoking teen and his mother. After accompanying them to the hospital, the twerp’s mother offers Sebastian a place to stay while his grandmother recuperates. Not knowing what else to do, Sebastian agrees, in spite of or perhaps because of Jared, the small boy who says he’s also sixteen years old but acts much younger.

Thus begins Sebastian’s education. Jared has recently had a heart transplant, which explains so much to Sebastian about the strange dynamic between him and his mother. It also explains why Jared is so small and acts so tough and pretends to be mean to Sebastian, like when he catches Sebastian spying on his sister. As Sebastian tries to catch up on all the things he should know, according to Jared, he becomes part of this odd family – at least until Granny comes back home and snatches him back to seclusion at the dome.

I don’t want to give away too much to this coming of age story that will reel you in at the first sentence and not let you go until it’s finished. Sebastian is a smart, na├»ve and totally likeable kid who would love to do the right thing if he could just figure out what it is. Jared is a scared and pampered boy who talks tough but who is really lonely and just wants a normal friend. When the two try to form a punk band, the result is a funny, heroic and sometimes sad picture of kids realizing the truth about their families and themselves.


This is the author’s first novel.

Other titles you may enjoy:

In Revere, in Those Days by Roland Merullo (2002)
Anthony Benedetto, a young boy in a large extended Italian-American family, describes growing up in the working-class community of Revere, Massachusetts, but his youth is changed forever by the tragic deaths of his parents.

How High the Moon by Sandra Kring (2010)
In small-town Wisconsin in 1955, 10-year-old Teaspoon struggles at school while missing her mother, who left her with a boyfriend while she “chased dreams” in Hollywood. Her concerned teacher enrolls her in Sunshine Sisters, a girls’ mentoring program, and Teaspoon finds herself teamed up with the “Sweetheart of Mill Town,” 18-year-old Brenda Bloom, whose mother owns the Starlight cinema, Teaspoon’s favorite avenue of escape.

The Washington Story: a novel in five spheres by Adam Langer(2005)
Chicago high-school sweethearts Jill and Muley share triumphs and despair over the course of five years that are marked by such events as the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and the return of Halley's comet.

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