Sunday, December 19, 2010

YA Book Review: As EASY As FALLING Off The Face Of The EARTH

Fifteen-year-old Ry is on a physical journey.  At first it is to summer camp by himself on a train.  When he is left in the middle of nowhere, thousands of miles from home with a dying cell phone and about 80 bucks cash, his journey changes.

He needs to get home.

He finds some people willing to help him, and then through a series of events his journey shifts again.   He needs to find his parents (who lost their cellphone).

On vacation, sailing in Caribbean.

As EASY as FALLING Off the Face of the EARTH by Lynne Rae Perkins is a funny and easy story to read.  I laughed aloud a few times as mishap after mishap happens to this kid.  It is ease and pure joy in storytelling.  This is not a heavy read; it is not a book for soul searching or tender moments.  It is simply a fun, enjoyable story by an author who clearly writes little slices of life memorably.

The characters are built so well that we can see them and remember them.  Again, nothing is overwritten here, but the combination of what the characters say and do, along with some basic physical information, establishes each persona very quickly in your mind.  We can see and anticipate what these characters will do or say.

My favorite aspect of Perkins' writing how she builds scenes into humorous moments.  In isolation the scene below may not be funny, but when you read it within the series of plausibly crazy events which just occurred, you can't help but smile:
 He rode with his legs stretched out, the backs of his heels resting against a lower step, watching this chunk of the world scroll by.  When the train went over the river, on the trestle, Ry pulled his legs and feet up instinctively, uninstinctively forgetting how he had loosened his bootlaces earlier.  His left boot caught on the edge of the metal step, his foot slipped out of the boot, and the boot bounced once on the trestle and went sailing through the air, down into the milky coffee of the river water.
The chapters are short and the book is fast-paced.  There are sub-plots involving his grandfather who ends up on his own journey, as well as Ry's two dogs, who end up on their own journey as well.  Grandpa was supposed to be watching the dogs.  I have to admit, there were times where I felt like, ok, enough is enough, how many crazy mistakes or accidents can one kid have?  But therein lies the fun of the book.  Ry is certainly not Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, but the humorous events are cut from that cloth.  I could picture the scene I shared above performed by either of those great silent stars.

This is a humorous modern-day adventure story to keep on your bookcase at school or home.  A 6th grader through 8th grader can read and enjoy the story very easily.  It has humor and action, but none of the harsh and sometimes jarring reality which finds its way into some YA literature.  I absolutely recommend this book and enjoyed it myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment