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Not for the faint of heart

14 Jul


It took me a while, but I finished Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. I had a little trouble getting into it. In fact, I started it twice before I really committed to finishing it. This happens sometimes. The older I get, the more willing I am to abandon a book that really isn’t working for me. But I didn’t in this case and I’m glad I didn’t.

Grasshopper Jungle begins slowly, with the development and description of the town and characters. It is poetic and foul-mouthed and over the top at times. Sometimes when I was reading the book, I wanted to get away. When I was away, it called to me to come finish it. Andrew Smith is a beautiful writer, but he certainly doesn’t shy away from obscenities or the descriptions of the sexual thoughts of teenage boys. But it is the quality of the story-telling that got me. He spirals things around and suddenly you are int he midst of a tornado. Not a real tornado, but a cataclysm that is more destructive, though less likely to happen.

The story is funny and dark at the same time. It is about adolescence, GMOs, and reflections on ancestry.

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

This is considered a YA novel, but I think a lot of adults might enjoy it. If you pick it up and feel frustrated or repulsed, don’t give up. Persevere. Revel in the poetry of the writing.

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