by Lynne Rae Perkins
Greenwillow Books, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher
Fair warning: I'm going to gush.
This is my favorite novel so far this year, hands-down, no competition.
I can't wait until Saturday for Mother Reader's 48-Hour Read -- I'm seriously considering rereading this book as my first read of the marathon. (And if you saw the pile of novels I need to tackle for the Notables, you'd have a much better appreciation of the enormity that statement.)
You read for plot? This book's got plot in spades -- one outlandishly unbelievably impossibly possible event after another. This book is one long series of unfortunate events that could really happen. (But maybe not in the same chain, to the same person...or could they?)
You read for characters? This book's got a full cast, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Del. I love Del. Who wouldn't? He drops everything to drive Ry across the country to get back home, and then flies in a duct taped airplane with him to an island, and sails with him to another island, only to have some rotten luck with a windmill, but luckily he's taught Ry everything he needs to know in order for complete his mission on his own and live the rest of his life wide open for possibilities the way Del does.
The real reason I love Del? I'm married to him. To a man who can drive all night without sleep, find a way to fix anything (and who'll drop whatever he's doing to fix that thing for whoever asks), fly an airplane, sail a boat (while singing sea shanties), and admit (most of the time, at least begrudgingly) when he's wrong. My point here is not to gloat, but to let those of you who believe that Del is an over-the-top created-by-an-author kind of character know that men like that exist.
Another reason I love Del? I've got a little Del in me, too. I've got a couple of summit photos to prove that prior to arthritis and back problems, I was a rock climber. I've swum two open water swims, driven around the U.S. on my own, learned to make bobbin lace, and baked over 100 cupcakes in 3 days straight. I've had an interesting life. I HAVE an interesting life. And if there's nothing else this book makes you want more than to start over again at page one and reread it, it makes you long for (or proud of) an interesting life.
What else do I love about this book? The dogs. (They crack me up. Especially their conversation in the cargo hold on the way back home.) The chapter titles. Carl's driving. The description of the smell of the air in Florida. The scene where Everett's methane tank explodes. The way this book has stayed with me even though I finished it (for the first time) a week ago.
What are you waiting for? Go get a copy and start reading. Now!