If you’re looking for a change of scenery from your regular reading, something refreshingly innocent, humorous, charming, with a twinge of sadness, but overall hopeful and unique, than The House of Tomorrow is what you’re looking for. Teenager Sebastian Prendergast lives in a glass dome on top of a hill overlooking a town in Iowa. Yes, I said it, Iowa. An unlikely place for a boy to find himself through punk-rock music, but the Minnesota girl in me loves it.
Parentless at a young age, Sebastian lives with his aging grandmother who homeschools him on the teachings of dead philosopher-architect Buckminster Fuller. Sebastian’s grandmother has grand plans for him, somewhat new-age (though she hates the word) worldly plans. And her teachings and stories are all he’s ever known. When his grandmother has a stoke while giving a tour of their dome, Jared is accompanied to the hospital by the Whitcomb family: single mother Janice, sarcastic son Jared, and icy damaged daughter Meredith. On that day, his whole world changes. When his grandmother kicks him out of the dome for having email conversations about punk-rock music with Jared, Sebastian goes to stay with the Whitcomb family. In the course of his weeks with them, he and the Whitcombs are changed and their worlds will never quite be the same.
Peter Bognanni’s debut novel made me laugh more than once. The writing quality is good and appropriately simplistic, it’s not trying to make you smarter, or make you feel stupid. It’s trying to move you, and it will. The characters are crisp and realistic, images of them poured off the page as I read, and I can imagine this as a wonderful film. I sympathize with Sebastian, who is naive but not stupid, and I am thankful Bognanni made him intelligent enough with the outside world, instead of entirely unknowing of human interaction. I believe that Sebastian would use the sort of strange scientific language that he did, having been taught by his grandmother inside of a dome for the majority of his life; but I would have found it unrealistic if, say, he had no knowledge of how money works, or how to use a pay phone.
My favorite supporting character is Jared. Jared of the too-skinny jeans and punk-rock dreams. Of the stolen cigarettes and sarcastic one-liners. Jared is amusing and witty and wonderful. He and Sebastian form a unique bond and their interactions are the best parts of the story.
This book will change you; will make you look up the music of The Misfits; will make you recall your old, yet undying love for The Cure. It will make you nostalgic for your teenage years. It’s simply a really good book; unique, with flawless dialogue, and touching characters that will stay with you when you’re done reading.
(I received this book from the publisher for review)