17 September 2009

Book Banter -- The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet


Title: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
Author: Reif Larson
Genre: literary fiction
Length: ~380 pages
Plot Basics: T.S. (short for Tecumseh Sparrow) lives on a ranch near the continental divide in Montana, with his rancher father, scientist mother, and pop-obsessed older sister and the shadow of his dead younger brother. T.S. makes maps and drawings for scientific magazines and museums and one day, receives a call that he has won a prestigious award from the Smithsonian and needs to come to Washington D.C. It's clear, however, that the Smithsonian does not know he's 12. T.S. decides to accept the award and decides the only viable way to get to D.C. is to be a hobo on an east-bound train. Through his journey, he learns about himself, family, what it means to be an adult and comes to grips with his brother's death.
Banter Points: Larson's debut novel is completely endearing. The book is captivating with all the illustrations and diagrams in the margin that are intended to be T.S.'s own drawings. Additionally, T.S. is a fascinating character as he vacillates between 12-year-old logic and moments of adult insight.
Bummer Points: The ending. For as strong of a book as it was, Word Nerd was hoping for something else at the end. She's not sure quite what would have made it feel more satisfying to her, but something else (though the end did provide resolution.)
Word Nerd Recommendation: Read it! (And look for it on Word Nerd's Best of 2009 list at the end of the year.)


1 comment:

bob.metzger said...

I puzzled about the ending, too, and have my own theory about it's relevance. (spoiler alert: read no further if you don't want plot points). I think he actually died when attacked by the crazy hobo (when the flock of sparrows comes) and the rest is his version of "heaven." Think about all the crazy plot turns after that point; it's like a weird dream. And it ends with his greatest desire coming true -- acceptance by Dad.