“Life: An Exploded Diagram” by Mal Peet



This unusual story focuses on the bizarre history of seventeen-year-old Clem Ackroyd, his parents and his grandparents, and the way war shapes him and his family. The story begins at the end of World War II, lingers over the details of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and ends on September 11, 2001. Not only is it a unique, broad-spanning historical fiction novel, it is also full of beautiful language, a finely-drawn first-love story, and plenty of humor mixed in with all the heartache.

At the heart of the story is Clem’s secret relationship with Frankie, the daughter of his father’s boss. Every nuance of their ill-fated romance is chronicled, juxtaposed with Cuban Missile Crisis thoughts from John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro and other major players. If this sounds like dry reading to you, trust me, it’s not–Peet brings history to life as well as he evokes the heady, helpless, hormone-soaked feeling of first love.

Highly recommended for teens who like historical fiction or unusual narratives. Fans of realistic fiction by authors such as John Green or Sara Zarr might enjoy this book. Recommended for older readers.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

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