Review with a recipe for STANPREME pizza created just for the book can be found on Mamma's Kitchen Mondays post CABINGODDESS.COM
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Is it February already? Where in the world has this month gone? I was to wrapped up in rethinking my personal history, creating an #unstoppable lifestyle and thinking about how I was going to tell and create my own slice of opinion within this bright green blockbuster young adult book’s launch. I totally lost track of time. But here I sit, with a pile of notes, favorite quotes and still catching my breath after finishing this last month.
I still am at the WTF stage of how blown away I am and though I have said this about many books this one broke the barrier of awesomeness for me. Don’t get me wrong, the others were amazing, after all I said so, so it is the truth. But books like this, these change the world. Grasshopper Jungle is on it’s way of becoming something of legend, and I am guessing just like The Chocolate War, (which is actually mentioned within Grasshopper Jungle), this book will end up not only becoming a literary success, but also on some staunch Lutheran High School’s banned book list. Which for me, usually means the book is a book that MUST be read. So go forth and obtain your copy, if you can. They already are on their second printing and it has not even hit the shelves in the UK!
What can I say which everyone else has not already said. This author blew my mind in The Marbury Lens and he has done it again here. With Grasshopper Jungle and a story about everything, Andrew Smith has taken my breath away. I cried, I cringed and most of all I laughed so much I caused myself to throw up on three occasions. Geoff had to physically remove the book from my hands and hold my hair back while I still laughed and kept heaving I laughed so hard. It also made me think a lot. I ended up talking to my elder boy about his own confusing teenage years. A gay man now, he was a confused boy who loved a boy and a girl too. It made me think a lot… good books should do that. (sniffling.. damn I am crying now…)
Where was I… OH! You all have probably read tons of reviews and exclamations about how amazing of a read Grasshopper Jungle is and this is going to be one more of those reviews. I don’t think I can top the New York Times calling this book “A Literary Joy to Behold!” Ummm how do I top that? Many folks say Andrew writes outside the box, I don’t argue with this. I will argue, however, this book is a story which fits right into what the world and “boxes” that surround every teenage kid.. well that and a few horny six foot preying mantis’ … and ummm pizza (hey, I am going to be talking about that later on, had to throw it in.. bear with me!)
Austin Szerba (he’s polish… it’s in the history!) is a typical teenage boy who has a best friend Robby and a girlfriend Shann and he loves them both. A teen who constantly is thinking about the world around him and…well…. sex. In Austin’s case he is also obsessive about history.. well… and sex. Every teenage boy is confused, even if he is not like Austin or my son and unsure about his sexual orientation, he is thinking about sex. Confused why smoking a cigarette on the roof of one of the shops on main-street or eating a slice of pizza makes him horny. Or why the smell of maple syrup can cause you to get a boner. Any man that tells me he did not think about sex in a hyper-drive fashion after puberty kicked in is a liar. (I polled every man I know, including my 72 year old father. Boy that was an awkward conversation starter!).
“Everyone on every road that crossed beneath the point of my pen was always going to do the same things over and over and over.
I was confused.
How could I be in love with a girl ‘and’ a boy, at the same time?
I was trapped forever.
‘You know what I mean.”
― Andrew Smith, Grasshopper Jungle
OMG-quote-1Wait, don’t click away, this is not just what the book is about, but it is what Austin does think about a lot. Are you back?? Because I am going to be doing pizza too, straight from the book! OK NOW LISTEN, this book is about everything and like the book says “Good books are always about everything“. Andrew Smith writes this and it is the truth. He writes from Austin’s perspective, because this ”This is history, and it is also the truth.” Heck the character’s voices are even used to explain what we are reading at times:
Shann tells Austin, “I love how, whenever you tell a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion.” ― Andrew Smith, Grasshopper Jungle
Just picture it, you were a teen once… a kid sitting in his boxers with his toes buried in his best friend’s (the dog that is) furry belly as he writes down what happens in his world. He talks about his history, the world’s history as it happens, his brother’s history and his grandfather’s history… etc.. etc.. etc.. and most importantly he is the one who not only let the unstoppable six-foot tall mutant preying mantises out of the bag, so to speak, but he also is tasked by himself to write it all down so we would know why we are no longer at the top of the food chain, and why never to eat a lot of pancakes with maple syrup. “You know what I mean.”
Gee, I was going to make this simple as in… the whole review was going to be:Holy Shit! Buy this book, you won’t be sorry… that is all!
As I mentioned above, Andrew Smith writes outside the box, he is accused and praised for it. It isn’t a fluffy book, it’s vulgar at times, crass and everything else which would cause the church lady to wet herself. BUT, and I MEAN IT with capital letters and lots of obnoxious exclamation points.. BUT THIS BOOK, this brilliant book is a must read… It is the truth of a typical teenage boys life! Well that mixed in with six-foot preying mantis’, pizza, sex, genetic experiments, pill popping mothers, two-headed babies, banned books, history and confusion. The truth is in this book, in the history of Grasshopper Jungle or for this explanation, a box of a confused teenage boy who is an amateur historian living in Ealing, Iowa where the corn grows just as unstoppable as the brilliance within the pages of the history of how the world ended.. I think this quote from the book captures Andrew’s distinctive voice and wraps it up in a nice bright green bow:
“I was going to do something I had never done, and see things I could not understand and never believed existed.
This is history, and it is also the truth.”
― Andrew Smith, Grasshopper Jungle