The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
This book is made of awesome.
Sebastian Prendergast has lived with his Nana ever since his parents died 10 years ago when he was only 5. They live on the outskirts of a small town in Iowa in a geodesic dome according to the precepts of Bucky Fuller, an odd but visionary man who Sebastian’s Nana idolized. Until one day, Nana has a stroke just as a boy about Sebastian’s age and his mother come to tour the house. Thrown together by circumstance, Sebastian is initially pretty awkward in his interactions with Jared and his family; his grandmother’s Bucky Fuller-based homeschooling has left him removed from the real world with stilted and formal speech. Of course, Jared isn’t exactly a normal kid either, having had a heart transplant fairly recently. Unsure where they fit in the world, but boys bond as Jared introduces Sebastian to punk rock.
Okay, but the book is far more complex and layered than that. Actually, I think the book trailer does a great job of describing the heart of the book (and it is one of the best book trailers I’ve seen):
It was really amazing how genuine Sebastian felt when he was such an odd character. Although most kids don’t grow up with their nutty grandmother in self-proclaimed ‘House of the Future,’only gaining contact with others when they come to the house to take a tour, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that most teenagers feel at some point or another that they don’t know how or where they fit into the rest of the world. Sebastian captured that perfectly (although I did feel towards the end that he might have been just slightly too quick to lose his naivety). Jared and his sister Meredith rang incredibly true as well, even though they were almost archetypes of teenagers.
Although I’m not a huge punk rock fan, I LOVED the way it interacted with this book. Even for someone who doesn’t care much about music one way or another, the way that Sebastian and Jared discovered the world and their friendship through punk was just absolutely captivating. Bognanni used punk rock skillfully to explore the alienation of teen years, without creating obnoxiously alienated teens.
If you grew up watching Empire Records and High Fidelity, you will love this quirky, heartfelt novel. Highly recommended.