This week we officially finished our school year. What a year we have had! I am so grateful for the amazing teachers that taught my kids. We are feeling very bittersweet at our house this week as we say goodbye to these teachers. My heart is so full of gratitude for their diligence and love this year. So grateful that we made it! And happy Memorial Day weekend, my friends 🙂
I am back with a review of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass. I have loved everything I’ve read by Wendy (although I still have several of her books on my TBR) and this one was no different! I requested it for Christmas and loved it! A fantastic read!
- I remember one of my siblings reading this when we were kids. When I read the second Candymakers book last year, Jeremy and Lizzy make a cameo appearance when the gang is on tour with the Harmonicandy. I was curious about these friends and their story. And now I want a second book to explain that second adventure they are on!
According to Goodreads, “In one month Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen. But does he have what it takes to be a teenager? He collects mutant candy, he won’t venture more than four blocks from his apartment if he can help it, and he definitely doesn’t like surprises. On the other hand, his best friend, Lizzy, isn’t afraid of anything, even if that might get her into trouble now and then.
Jeremy’s summer takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious wooden box arrives in the mail. According to the writing on the box, it holds the meaning of life! Jeremy is supposed to open it on his thirteenth birthday. The problem is, the keys are missing, and the box is made so that only the keys will open it without destroying what’s inside. Jeremy and Lizzy set off to find the keys, but when one of their efforts goes very wrong, Jeremy starts to lose hope that he’ll ever be able to open the box. But he soon discovers that when you’re meeting people named Oswald Oswald and using a private limo to deliver unusual objects to strangers all over the city, there might be other ways of finding out the meaning of life.
Lively characters, surprising twists, and thought-provoking ideas make Wendy Mass’s latest novel an unforgettable read.“
The search for the meaning of life is central to this story and very cleverly done. Of course we have Jeremy’s gift from his dad and the questions about what could fit in the box and be the meaning of life. I loved how they started asking people they know and people they don’t. And the various answers people give them about finding meaning. It shows so beautifully all the different answers and the different ways people see their lives, the universe, and the world. This book makes you think about your own life and the meaning you find in it. But it is simple and engaging through the eyes of kids.
Jeremy and Lizzy’s friendship is one of my favorite parts of this book. It’s so good! Mass writes such great friendships in her books. I love how each character building their friendships up. These two are classic best friends since birth and I love how different they are. She is adventurous, steals stuff, and intense. He likes routine, hates surprises, likes to learn about different things. I love the details. Their hole in the wall between apartments where they send notes. The comic book store. The snacks in the limo. The food their parents make them. Peanut butter sandwiches all the time. Together they are so great. They push each other; they help each other. And they are in the search for the keys together. Even though they are changing and that’s a little scary, they are still there for each other.
Jeremy and Lizzy are surrounded by intriguing characters both present and in the past. I loved Mr Oswald and his tasks of returning the items to people. The signed copy of Winnie the Pooh!! Hearing people’s life stories and their regrets, what they’ve learned, what they hope to find in the future. Each person they encounter was so interesting and also ordinary. They have lived lives and made mistakes. They are ordinary people but when we learn about their lives, they become extraordinary. I would love gladly read even more such visits. And I loved Mr Oswald’s relationship with the kids. Jeremy’s dad was another favorite of mine. I loved his letter explaining his meaning of life. And everything he does to give his son a chance to experience the world in new ways–ride the subway without an adult, take a bus, meet new people, be in a talent show, try new food (beyond PB&J sandwiches), start a collection, think about the meaning of life. I loved how he was central to the story despite his death years before.
This story is about details. A box, a book, a lamp, a telescope, a suitcase, 4 keys. A random assortment of items that give Jeremy one summer he will never forget. I loved this book like I loved The Candymakers series. Can’t wait to read more from Wendy Mass! Highly recommend to all middle grade readers and adults as well. We can all gain something from this book and build our own meaning of life.
What are your favorite books that teach you about the meaning of life?
Any Wendy Mass fans out there?