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Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet

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Teenage Book of the Month

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
Published by Walker Books 2011

The title of this book gives a fitting description of what it might contain within. If Life as the title says is an exploded diagram, then the characters have little to do but resign themselves to the inevitability of fate.

The setting is an idyllic rural one of Norfolk in the 1960s but suddenly life is turned on its head, the novel changes direction and we are catapulted into a world of crisis decision- making in the White House as the international threat of the Cuban missile crisis looms.

The love story running under the surface is the very heart of the novel. Clem Ackroyd’s life changes when he falls in love with Frankie, the daughter of a wealthy farmer and experiences first love. The story is told through Clem’s flashbacks while living and working in New York City as a designer, moving from his parents’ and grandmother’s past to his own teenage years.

Older teenagers will be surprised to learn about the history of the Cold War period without realizing it. The effortless juxtaposition of time throughout the novel is testament to the deservedly award-winning writing of this author.

Other prize-winning books by Mal Peet include Keeper and Tamar both of which are available in the Teenage Book collections of Clare County Library branches.