Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Review: "The House of Tomorrow" by Peter Bognanni

Since his parents' death when he was very young, 16-year-old Sebastian has lived in Iowa's first geodesic dome with Nana (his grandmother), a devout follower of designer and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. Nana has home schooled Sebastian and allowed him little contact with the outside world beyond the tour groups that come to the dome each week, and he is ready to follow the path that she has set for his future. When she suffers a stroke one day, Sebastian's life is thrown into turmoil. He meets Jared Whitcomb, a teenage boy with issues of his own, and his loving yet overprotective mother, Janice, who are touring the dome when Nana suffers her stroke. Later, Sebastian also meets Jared's older sister, Meredith, who teaches Sebastian a thing or two about the complexity of emotions. As Jared and Sebastian become friends, Sebastian starts discovering all of the things he has been missing in life—punk rock, processed foods, girls, and most of all, companionship with a peer. But he is torn between this new life and continuing to work with Nana on fulfilling her visions for his future.

I really loved this book. Every one of the characters is endearing in their own way, even if you're not supposed to empathize with them. Sebastian's interactions with the Whitcombs and Nana were at turns funny, thought-provoking and touching, and Bognanni really gave him depth beyond the fish-out-of-water storyline. Even though I had a feeling where the book would go, I never felt bored, because Bognanni's storytelling ability was really great. I was sad when I finished the book because I'd love to know what happened to all of the characters once the story ended. That, to me, is the mark of a great story.

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