Oh, thank heavens July is behind us! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cookouts, swimming parties and fireworks, but this year I’m just feeling grateful to be one month closer to fall’s gentler weather. One fun hallmark of this summer is the additions we’ve had to our Forever Young Adult book club. I started it earlier this year in the hopes that it would bring readers of all ages together to discuss literature written specifically for a younger audience. There are a lot of hidden gems in the YA genre and it often presents itself with an emotional freedom and honesty not as frequently found in more mature characters.
The first month nobody showed up. The second month I had two people show up. They were my only faithful members for another couple of months and now the book club can boast five regulars! (This doesn’t sound like much until you realize it’s technically a 66.67% increase from the previous months.) There’s nothing quite like discussing a book to bring people together. We’ve already been through quite a number of interesting books and had some excellent discussions. I would have to say our most recent read was by far the most memorable.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is one of those books that comes at you like a roundhouse kick to the face. There’s nothing subtle about it. It’s narrated by Austin, a Polish boy living in Iowa who is confused about many things, mainly his growing feelings for his girlfriend, Shann and best friend, Robby. In the midst of his hormone-fueled emotional ADD, he and Robby accidently set off a chain of events resulting in the creation of six-foot-tall praying mantis mutant soldiers. The story jumps back and forth between current events and Austin’s explanation of his family history.
To say this is a gross book is an incredible understatement. I tried to eat while reading and had to stop. Let’s just say there are some things that you really don’t want to imagine giant bugs doing to each other. And at times I found the people in the book even more disgusting than the bugs. So consider yourself warned, there is a lot of graphic content in this book. A whole lot.
With all that being said, this is a very well written book. Every facet of the story fit flawlessly into the whole. The voicing was consistent, (something that’s often challenging to maintain in a first person narrative,) and the book was absolutely full of shared experiences and inside jokes with the reader. As terrifying as it was to imagine that this book was an accurate portrayal of what goes on inside the mind of a sixteen year old boy, I think the author got pretty close to the mark. It was a very raw, unfiltered and engaging read.
So read at your own risk, but know that the Forever Young Adult book club unanimously agreed that Grasshopper Jungle (while incredibly gross) was still a worthwhile read.
From our shelves to yours,