Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review 2011 #3 - Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Published by: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 13th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 608 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
"Ground control to major Tom, your circuits dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you... "

1977: Ben has always been a unique kid. Deaf in one ear, he never let anything deter him. His mother filled his head with books and stars and curiosities. But now his mother is dead and he's living with his Aunt and Uncle in Gunflint Lake Minnesota left with more questions than he can count, while his true home lies empty next door. His mother never told him about his father, but he always connected him to the David Bowie song Space Oddity. His mother never told him a lot of things. Now that she is gone it seems wrong to go poking about in her past... but it might be the key to his father. A second tragedy leads Ben to run away to New York and hide out in the American Museum of Natural History, where hopefully he will find answers.

1927: Rose is held a prisoner. Rose is held a prisoner for her own safety. She is deaf. But that doesn't mean the world should be shut away from her. She loves the movies. They're still silent... but that will sadly change soon. She often risks everything to venture into the wilds of New York City. The American Museum of Natural History offers her solace, safety and family.

1977: These two lives are intertwined in ways some suspected, and some never dared to be true.

Brian Selznick has done it again. His previous story, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, told the story of early cinema in the streets of Paris through prose and pictures which instantly captivated the publishing world. Here we have yet another little urchin in Ben hiding out in a very famous landmark. All children must have at one time or another fantasized about living in a museum, I know I did, even if Ben's experience is out of necessity, versus determination, like the children in E.L. Konigsburg's book or even the youngest Tennenbaums. The museum is just part of the whole. It's the interweaving stories of Rose and Ben that build the suspense and mystery and drive this story forward. Little clues scattered like stars through the book. Rose's obsession with a film star having real world reasons. Ben's nightmares about wolves being a key to his past, not just a haunting nightmare.

Every little thing builds like an electric charge before a storm making you read and read and immerse yourself in this wonderful world so that when you look up at the clock at 5AM you are literally shocked at how time has flown. The book struck me, just as lightning struck on July 13th, 1977 causing New York City to be plunged into darkness. I can't tell you how I connected to this book. It's something deep in me. My love of collecting, of museums, of books, of mysteries, of the time I was born, of David Bowie, of history. The book is aptly named, I was Wonderstruck.

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