The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni


Unexpectedly poignant and richly comic, The House of Tomorrow is a novel about the power of music, the exquisite torture of first love, and the many places we call home.

Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing out on, including girls, grilled cheese sandwiches with grape soda, and Sid Vicious. Together they form a punk band called The Rash, and with the help of Jared’s sister, Meredith, prepare to take the local church talent show by storm. But when Sebastian’s grandmother wants him to return to the dome and take Bucky’s message to the world, will Sebastian have to give up The Rash — and lose his chance at winning Meredith’s heart?

On the outskirts of a small town in Iowa, Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who has spent the last eleven years homeschooling him on the teachings of futurist, philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when Sebastian’s grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and discover what it means to live a normal life.

A funny and deeply affecting story of a young man’s self-discovery, a dying woman’s last wish, and a band of misfits trying desperately to be heard.

I have had a devil of a time writing my review of this book, which is why I didn’t write my own synopsis this time.  Not because it was a bad book either, indeed, it’s because it was so good!  I have so much I want to say about it that it becomes all twisted up inside of me, so twisted that I can’t get it out.  I open my mouth and… nothing comes out.

So, I took a pen and some paper to attempt writing out my feelings for this book in longhand.  A pen, some paper, some peace and quiet, and nothing but my thoughts about The House of Tomorrow.  And, while I may have finally got some of those feelings out on paper, I am sure I have come no where near to fully articulated how much I love this book.  It may very well be my favorite read of the year.

The House of Tomorrow is really a deceptively simple story.  A orphaned teenage boy is living with his grandmother when she has a stroke.  Home schooled and rarely allowed outside her sphere of influence, Sebastian is a very protected young man.  So, when in her confusion and fear (and in his own fear and naivety, his Nana kicks him out of their home, he is forced to go live with a family he barely knows and who are going through their own turmoil.  There he finds a strength, and a faith in himself, he never knew he had.

But this book is about so much more than that.  It’s about family, about love, about finding your place in a world that is working against you every step of the way.  It’s about that treacherous game of friendship, about that support, and the bonds that come with learning to care about another human being.  It’s about the fear that comes from letting someone new into your life, that uncertainty about their feelings, their intent and their ability to simply stay.   It’s about finding that one can make one’s own decisions, the revolutionary idea that one can make one’s own choices, be it good or bad, and that no one has control over you, but yourself.   And it’s about that precious, and precarious, tender torture of first love and all the pain, confusion and joy it can bring.  Most of all The House of Tomorrow is about one endearing boy’s journey to self-discovery, to the future…  no about all of our journeys,  for we are reminded of our own journey and all the joys and sorrows we encountered (and still encounter) on our way in Sebastian’s story.

The House of Tomorrow takes the everyday and the commonplace, and the otherness of visionaries and revolutionaries, and creates a beautiful, funny, heartwarming experience completely unlike anything I’ve read before.  Peter Bognanni shows love and compassion for each of these flawed and deeply human characters.  His writing is deft and his wit brings to life this unexpectedly poignant and richly funny story of the power of love, the power of music, the power of an excellent grilled cheese and grape soda, and that perilous journey called life.

The House of Tomorrow
by Peter Bognanni
Young Adult
Published by: Amy Einhorn Books
Format: Hardcover
On Sale: March 4, 2010
ISBN: 978-0399156090

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