Thursday, April 1, 2010

23. Carpe Diem - Autumn Cornwell

Audio read by Lynde Houck
Random House, 2008
Book published 2007
7 unabridged cd's
9 hrs. 5 min.
368 pages
80% of the book is based on the author's own experiences!
Check out her website.

Vassar Spore is an overachiever (AP and AAP courses have her GPA soaring around 5.3) who is competing with another student for valedictorian of their class. So when the grandmother she has never met invites her to spend this summer between her junior and senior year in Malaysia, she is sure her parents will support her and say no. At first they do. But then Vassar thinks that Grandma Gerd somehow blackmailed her parents into allowing Vassar to go. Not only does she not want to go, she really, really wants to disover the "secret."

So she sets off to Singapore with ten suitcases and lots of lists and plans. But when she meets Grandma Gerd, her life is turned topsy-turvy. Grandma Gerd is NOT a planner. She looks for found art (what Vassar considers trash), and insists on calling her Frangipani, the middle name that she had given Vassar at her birth. She also "hires" an 18-year old Asian young man to shadow her to keep her out of trouble. And trouble is what Vassar is constantly getting into. For a supposedly smart girl she's pretty.....dumb....most of the time. Hilariously so.

I don't like all the voices that Lynda Houck used. She nailed Vassar. But Grandma Gerd sounded a little too cutesy, and one of her friends sounded like a boy. Oh well, you can't have it all, right?

A little bit of romance, lots of problems with bathrooms and relieving oneself, art and family and hiking....we get wonderful glimpses of Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos, so seldom seen in an American YA novel. Very enjoyable. Cute. Funny. Fun. I'd sure love to meet this author...she must be a riot. Hope she writes more.

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